Her father is a vain, foolish baronet, obsessed with his lineage but so careless with money that he is obliged to quit his ancestral seat. Her sister is a fretful invalid with a good-natured husband and two disobedient sons. She herself falls in love with a handsome naval officer, and he with her, but her proud family consider his status and prospects inadequate. Heartbroken, the lovers part: he goes to sea while she leads a forlorn life at home. Years later he returns with a fortune in prize money, and after further misunderstandings he claims her as his bride.
This is the story of Anne Elliot in Jane Austen's Persuasion. It is also the story - true this time - of Katherine Bisshopp, the clever, beautiful daughter of an old Sussex family.
Drawing on Katherine's letters and journals and other family papers, this book relates the joys and anxieties of her youth, her harrowing eleven-year courtship with George Pechell, and their happy and prosperous union, which produced two daughters and a son. Splinter chapters draw parallels with Jane Austen's portrait of society and reveal the extraordinary coincidences of character and circumstance between Katherine Bisshopp and Anne Elliot, while the real woman's experiences after her marriage are seen as a possible future for the fictional heroine. The reality of history and the deeper truth of literature together yield a detailed picture of the age.
Peter James Bowman is an independent scholar and translator living in Ely. He studied Modern Languages at Oxford University and completed a PhD in German at Cambridge University. He has published many periodical articles on literary subjects, and among the writers he has translated are Theodor Fontane, Stefan Zweig and Johanna Spyri. His first book The Fortune Hunter: A German Prince in Regency England appeared in English and German.