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The story begins seven years after the broken engagement of Anne Elliot to then Commander Frederick Wentworth. Anne, then 19 years old, fell in love and accepted a proposal of marriage from the handsome young naval officer. He was clever, confident, ambitious and employed, but not yet wealthy and with no particular family connections to recommend him. Her father, Sir Walter, and her older sister, Elizabeth, maintained that Wentworth was no match for an Elliot of Kellynch Hall, the family estate. Lady Russell, acting in place of Anne's late mother, persuaded her to break the engagement, which Lady Russell saw as imprudent for one so young. They are the only ones who know about this short engagement, as younger sister Mary was away at school.