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The narrator, however, doesn’t leave us in suspense for long, and helpfully explains that it is not Mr. Wentworth the curate for whom Anne is blushing, but his brother, Captain Frederick Wentworth.
Cue flashback: seven years previously, in 1806, the dashing young Captain Wentworth had come to town and, within a few months, he and Anne had fallen head over heels in love with each other.
While the Captain had impressed Anne with his personal charisma, Sir Walter and Lady Russell were less impressed with his empty wallet and lack of friends in high places to help fill it.
Eventually, Lady Russell had convinced Anne that it was best for the both of them if they parted; at the time Anne herself believed it, but the spurned Captain Wentworth left town in a huff.
In the long years that followed, Anne had remained stuck in her small hometown, never meeting anyone who held a candle to her lost Captain.
Three years after the failed engagement, Anne had received another proposal, this time from a local boy: Charles Musgrove, second place in the county’s Rich and Famous rankings (after Sir Walter); she turned him down.
Anne has serious hindsight issues, as now she believes it would have been better to follow her heart and keep the engagement.
Twisting the knife, Captain Wentworth has been just as successful as he said he would be, and is now comfortably rich – and, as far as Anne knows, still unmarried.
We return to the present, where with all these complicated emotions roiling around internally, Anne works hard to keep a stiff upper lip in the presence of her family, aided by the fact that they hardly notice her anyway.