Persuasion 200: Anne Calls at Uppercross – Jane Odiwe — 21 Comments

  1. This chapter was especially enjoyable for me because I have always enjoyed the Musgrove family. They are so cheerful and friendly, and they are polite without standing on ceremony. They are an interesting contrast to Mary who enjoys being ill, and complains about everything. She has more in common with Sir Walter and Elizabeth than she does with Anne, but for that reason alone the three most selfish people in the world can not get along! They all want to be the center of attention, and while Sir Walter and Elizabeth have made accommodation for their mutual selfishness, they do not extend the same courtesy as it were to any other member of their family or their friends. Unless the friend is higher in society. Then they can be very accommodating, but it is as superficial as they are. It was very refreshing to spend time with the Musgroves before the tensions and sadness of Frederick Wentworth’s return. They very much remind me of the Lucas family in P&P, but without the constant references to St. James Court, that Sir William is so fond of tossing into a conversation. You are so very good at bringing characters to life and making them real. You make us feel them and care about them, which is one of the main reasons I admire your writing. You display them as they really are, and allow us to judge them without forcing our conclusions, which is very refreshing. While I have always thought that Mary Elliot Musgrove was a silly character, and someone to provide comedy, I can understand her now. Her illnesses were a coping mechanism and a way to garner attention from her family, who wouldn’t and won’t care about her or give her the time of day. It was a way for her family to show they loved her, but only Anne did. As usual, the recipient(s) of her caring took it for granted. Thank you for this wonderful and amusing chapter. It was a nice respite from the sadness of the story. Thank you Jane; your writing is a wonderful gift, and I am happy that I own all of your books. I love to read them and read them again. It is a gift I am always delighted to give myself!

    • Yes, the Musgroves seem as if they’d be fun to be around, don’t they, Mari? And after the Elliots anyone would be light relief. You’re so right about them being superficial and selfish. I agree completely about Mary who feels she doesn’t get the attention she deserves, and I suppose it’s difficult when Elizabeth is clearly her father’s favourite! Mari, thank you for your truly lovely words and support for my writing-I feel very honoured that you have all my books and that you’ve read them more than once is the icing on the cake! You’ve made my day.

  2. So nicely written. Poor Marry is ignored when they go to visit the Musgroves…..everyone must be so tired of her complaining and whining.

    Poor Anne. Henrieta and Louisa are young and have no idea of how the talk of Bath distresses Anne. Being sent away from Kyllench to go to school there after her mother died and feeling so alone. I wonder if that made her keep her counsel to herself, keeping silent with no one to turn to. I wonder how she was treated there, I would imagine not well (girls pretending to be her friend and gaining her trust and then betraying that trust?) … wonder she turned to Lady Russel, her mother’s friend…the only person she could trust and felt that truly had her best interests at heart.

    Intresting look at Sir Walter. He couldn’t bear the reminder of his wife by having Anne around….”A reminder of all her mother had been in looks and sweet disposition”. he seems to have been deeply in love with his wife…..I am sure his selfishness and vanity were always there, but I believe his wife curbed those tendencies because he wanted to, for her (makes me think of another Austen gentleman….the changes in himself for someone he loves).

    I love how this made me think…..a few words open so much….hmmmmm…..a story about how that time effected Elizabeth and Sir Walter,,,,,that might be interesting…..So much said with so few words, Jane. Than you.

    • Thank you, Deborah-I really enjoyed writing this and I don’t think I’d really thought about why Anne disliked Bath so much before but of course two of the most painful episodes in her life were punctuated by time spent in the town and visits there after the events.
      I decided there must be subconscious reasons for why Sir Walter dislikes his most lovely daughter so much – I think he is a complex character – yes, I think he was in love with his wife, but I’m sure it was a totally selfish love so that when she dies it’s almost as if he feels she’s done it to spite him, perhaps. He’d see Anne as a constant reminder and know that he’s not managed to conduct himself as his wife would have advised, and of course that’s why he likes Elizabeth so much because she is exactly like him and indulges his every whim encouraging him to be extravagant. I agree that his wife would have kept him in check!
      Yes, that would be an interesting side story with Elizabeth and her father!

  3. Very nice. The Musgroves have always been some of my favorite characters. You brought out the difference between the two sets of sisters so well. The Musgrove girls open and teasing and truly happy with each other and their lives; and the Eliot sisters so shut off from each other and the eldest and youngest trying to garner their father’s attentions. Elizabeth by being beautiful and Mary by being ill force Anne completely out and she has become the after thought. The insight into Sir Walter seeing his wife in Anne explains alot. This really made me feel sorry for him for once, a selfish man looses the woman he loves and is left with 3 daughters that he had no idea how to handle. No wonder things fell apart. Interesting insights and lovely pictures. Did you paint the one of Bath? What talent. Thank you

    • Maggie, thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. The contrast in the sisters was a good opportunity for me to expand on their characters a little. Anne is the classic child in the middle, isn’t she? I’ve a feeling Sir Walter probably just wallowed in his own upset and didn’t really give the girls a thought when his wife died, except Elizabeth as the eldest and the one who agrees with everything he says.
      I painted the one of Bath some years ago-it’s actually supposed to be Jane Austen in Bath Street which is opposite the Pump Rooms entrance on the main street- (where Anne and Captain Wentworth walk at the end of the 1995 Persuasion).

  4. I think Mary is too sensitive about other people feeling toward her, maybe Mary like her father a little bit selfish behavior, is Mary younger than Anne.

  5. Linda, yes, Mary always thinks people are talking about her, which says quite a lot about her character, I think! Definitely like her father-very selfish-she knows Anne will pick up the pieces when she’s had enough and is why she’s always summoning her to Uppercross. Mary is the youngest, and I suppose she probably looks to Anne to be a kind of mother figure too, because Elizabeth is too selfish to fulfil that role.

  6. As always, your writing is such a treat to read, Jane! And I could just picture the reaction of the Musgrove girls when Mary said this:
    ‘You always have my company, whenever you wish it,’ interrupted Mary, ‘but I suppose mine is so common-place it is not considered anything of merit, at all.’
    Poor Mary…so underappreciated. 😀

  7. Jane, What a lovely piece! You have shown through the discourse of the Musgroves, particularly the sisters, how engaging they were and how open and receptive they were to have Anne once again in their company. However I do wonder how Anne could have maintained her guard on her feelings (“Anne felt all the pain of her removal there as if it were yesterday. “) and no one seemed to notice how pensive or briefly out of sorts, silent or withdrawn she much have been. Even though Lady Russell was Anne’s confidant and friend, Lady Russell often dismissed the depth of Anne’s feelings. No one of her acquaintance, save Captain Wentworth, understands and loves her so well. Thank you, Jane Austen, for bringing him back into her life! My absolute favorite Austen novel. Will you have other chapters to write, Jane? I enjoyed this one so much and got me to thinking more of our central character… you can tell from my comments here.

  8. Linda, I do find it an interesting exercise writing these pieces because you have to think about what makes the characters tick. Jane Austen was such a genius, wasn’t she? When you read the passages again you discover so much that sometimes she just hints at or infers, which really helps with any development. I’m writing another scene soon on an impromptu ball at Uppercross and am looking forward to writing that! Thank you so much for all your kind comments.

  9. What bldg. is that in the first photo? Did it get mentioned and I didn’t read slowly enough to catch where it is? I, too, like the Musgroves. They are so down-to-earth, so unpretentious. Their children show how warm and loving these parents were in rearing them. Later comments by Louisa reveal much about how they view relationships…when she pushes Henrietta to go to visit the cousins during their walk and her comments about Mary’s looking down on those same cousins. I could see Anne relaxing during the busy conversations, even if part was sad memories. Nothing was expected or demanded of her – just happy chatter back and forth. Normal female conversation about fashions, shopping, snide comments about snobbery, etc. And the dog – knows a good person! Thanks for letting us visit this in-home scene.

      • Thank you for the link. I looked it up and those bldg. are so lovely. Another couple recommended Cotswold to us as their favorite part of England (back in 2004 when we took out only trip there).

  10. Another delightful chapter! As much as Mary loves having Anne there, she is jealous of the attention that she gets. She just doesn’t realize how much her attitude affects all those around her and mistakes their interactions or lack of towards her. Anne loves the liveliness and warmth exuded by the Musgroves. Yes, even the dog loves her!

  11. This is an absolutely delightful chapter, Jane. Your understanding and real life experience of Bath and its surrounding houses can be seen here. Now I get why Sir Walter decided to send Anne to school in Bath while it was not mentioned where Elizabeth and Mary was sent to or not (if I remember correctly). And the true reason why she is not happy in Bath.

    I love the moments when Anne visits Uppercross because this is where she can truly be herself and enjoy female companionship and discourse. Thanks for gifting us some memorable scenes, Jane.

  12. Pingback: Persuasion 200: Everyone talks to Anne - Random Bits of Fascination

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