Persuasion by Jane Austen, Annes visit to the Great House: “To the Great House accordingly they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour, with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a grand piano-forte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment.”
Reading Persuasion at the end of a year, with a hint of coffee, and a bit of peanut butter sandwichiness, I felt the sunny quiet living roominess of the pages had an undercurrent of sadness, and underneath that, something volatile, uncertain, unfixed, and even magnificently dangerous. So different form what the words, and the world of fixed civilized refinery, old lady and gentleman-ness, seemed to be saying, and yet exactly what the words sometimes might have meant.
It was sad. I think I liked Persuasion best of all of Jane.