Austen in August: Week 1, Susan Kaye

Austen in August/PersuasionWelcome to the Jane Started It! portion of AUSTEN IN AUGUST. I want to thank MISTY, mistress of THE BOOK RAT blog, for hosting this wonderful, last chance, all-out, Austencentric book read of the summer. I am particularly happy with her choice of Austen novels, PERSUASION.  To say it is my favorite novel would be an understatement. I have grown to love Anne Elliot over the years, and I am a bona fide FREDERICK FANGIRL. (There are some who like the designation, Wentworth Wench, but I’m not fond of that.)  Anyway, I’m happy to talk Persuasion with anyone who will stand still.

Misty gave us some great questions to start with. My compatriots, LAURA HILE and ROBIN HELM will be posting answers here as well. Check back everyday to join the conversation.

As I said, Misty gave us some great questions but also gave us permission to ask our own. I thought this was a perfect chance to ask a question I’ve had for-practically-ever concerning Mary and Charles Musgrove.

Do you think Mary knews that Charles once asked Anne to marry him, and was refused?

On one hand, how could Mary not have known? Louisa knew. She cheerfully informed Frederick as they gathered and ate hazelnuts in the hedgerows. Mr and Mrs Musgrove had obviously discussed it in detail, blaming Lady Russell for Anne’s refusal. (I love the irony of Frederick being told Lady Russell sabotaged another man’s proposal, even if it wasn’t true.)  How awkward was the conversation between Mary and Anne when Mary told her sister she’d accepted Charles? Might Anne have told her so it’s not a secret waiting to bite her sister later? Would Anne have been hurt and would she have regretted seeing Mary wed a man she (Anne) could have married?

On the other hand, if the Musgroves had somehow managed to keep this from Mary and it wasn’t a well-known fact, how shocking was it for her to hear Louisa tell Wentworth on the walk to Winthrop? A great bit of fiction would be a story in which Anne, believes her refusing Charles was just between the two of them, hears it “broadcast” to the one man in the world she loves. I’d run and hide, how about you?

Anyway, the fun of events like Misty’s Austen in August is tossing out these bits of fluff and seeing where the wind blows them.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Take care–Susan Kaye


5 thoughts on “Austen in August: Week 1, Susan Kaye

  1. Robin Helm

    Anne, or someone else, may have told Mary, though I doubt Anne would have, but I don’t think Anne would have regretted her decision at all. She was probably upset to have hurt Charles’s feelings and would have been happy that he was marrying someone else. Since Anne had a great deal of sense, she may have felt sorry for Charles because of his choice of Mary, but she would have hoped for the best. I would imagine that’s one reason she was always ready to go to Uppercross and help in any way that she could.

    Had I overheard the conversation between Wentworth and Louisa, I would have felt a sudden need to make my presence known. I would have wandered innocently into their path or coughed loudly. That would have been my little hint to Louisa that she could stop sharing my personal life. I’m not as gentle as Anne.


  2. Susan Kaye Post author

    I personally think Mary knew. How she found out is mystery. and I’m sure Anne couldn’t have been too surprised that Louisa knew. The neighborhood was far too small to keep many secrets, and I think Charles was the sort of man who would have spoken to his father about a decision that would affect the family the way the eldest son marrying would.

    I think it’s perfectly in character that the elder Musgroves would have discussed it in front of the old children because we see time and again that discretion isn’t a family trait.

    Laura Hile has always thought that Charles so quickly married Mary because he thought she would be like Anne in temperament and character. I think she’s on to something there. Maybe finding out the contrary is why he spends so much time out shooting.


  3. Eileen

    I think that Mary would have been aware of the proposal and the refusal, and was delighted that Charles turned his attentions to her! She would have completely rationalized the proposal to Anne in her head: “Oh, he was only showing mercy on the poor thing!” Anne night have even encouraged Charles courting Mary, because she truly cared for them both.


  4. Robin Helm

    Eileen, you’ve made a very good point. I can just imagine Mary saying that. “Anne is older than I am; it’s only natural that Charles should offer for her first, even though he wanted me all the time.” Susan, they probably would have discussed it openly. From the way they all unloaded on Anne as soon as she got to Uppercross, it’s fairly obvious that they held no secrets. Laura’s idea is also on the mark. Poor Charles! He certainly didn’t get what he expected.


  5. Susan Kaye Post author

    Eileen has a good point. I wonder where Elizabeth would have fit into Mary’s reasoning. I mean, Charles was still alive, I don’t think if he’d presumed to propose to Elizabeth that would have been the case. 😉



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