(A Modern Library E-Book)
Jane Austen’s last completed novel, a brilliantly insightful story of regret, second chances, and the courage to follow our hearts
Anne Elliot is twenty-seven and unmarried—by all accounts a spinster in her time—seemingly doomed to spend the rest of her life waiting on her image-obsessed father and extravagant older sister; attempting to maintain their once lavish, now dwindling family estate; and occasionally babysitting the children of her married younger sister.
It wasn’t always this way, though. When Anne was nineteen, she was in love with and engaged to Frederick Wentworth, a man with no money and few prospects. Anne’s well-meaning family and friends convinced her that a young heiress like herself could do better, so she broke off the engagement. But when chance brings Wentworth and Anne together again eight years later, he is now an accomplished naval captain with an impressive fortune, and Anne must face her feelings for him that remain and consider how different her life could have been if only she hadn’t been so easily persuaded by others.
Stevenson has read all of Austen's novels for audiobook, in abridged or unabridged versions, and her experience shows in this delightful production. Though dominated by the intelligent, sweet voice of Anne Elliot the least favored but most worthy of three daughters in a family with an old name but declining fortunes Stevenson provides other characters with memorable voices as well. She reads Anne's haughty father's lines with a mixture of stuffiness and bluster, and Anne's sisters are portrayed with a hilariously flighty, breathy register that makes Austen's contempt for them palpable. Anne's voice is mostly measured and reasonable an expression of her strong mind and spirit but Stevenson imbues her speech with wonderful shades of passion as Anne is reacquainted with Capt. Wentworth, whom she has continued to love despite being forced, years before, to reject him over status issues. Listening to Stevenson, as Anne, describe a sudden encounter with Wentworth, one hardly needs Austen's description of how Anne grows faint Stevenson's perfectly judged and deeply felt reading has already shown that she must have. Even those who have read Austen's novels will find themselves loving this book all over again with Stevenson's evocative rendition ringing richly in their ears.