‘They ascended and passed him; and as they passed, Anne’s face caught his eye, and he looked at her with a degree of earnest admiration, which she could not be insensible of.’ - Persuasion
Seaside holidays are renowned for romance. Jane may have experienced a romance of her own, although sadly we do not know exactly what happened, as no letters from this period survive. A family story maintains that she met a young man in the summer of 1801, possibly at Sidmouth, possibly a clergyman. He had to leave to fulfil another engagement, but promised to return; however they then heard the tragedy that he had died.
Other holiday romances occur in the novels. In Pride & Prejudice Lydia Bennet and Wickham elope from Brighton, and in Persuasion Louisa Musgrove finds love with Captain Benwick during her convalescence in Lyme. Anne herself is restored to ‘the bloom and freshness of youth’ by Lyme’s ‘fine wind’ and catches the eye of Mr Elliot whilst walking on the Cobb, which Captain Wentworth notices at once:
‘Captain Wentworth looked round at her instantly in a way which shewed his noticing of it. He gave her a momentary glance,—a glance of brightness, which seemed to say, “That man is struck with you,— and even I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again.” ’
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