How delightful! Where I struggled greatly through the first half, the second half seemed to flow more for me. I think it was possibly the combination of two things: I had become more accustomed to the prose and the story became much more interesting.
Towards the end, I noticed no difficulty in reading Austen's prose. I was swept into the agonising misunderstandings and misfires of Anne's and Captain Wentworth's romance. I was intrigued by the eventual revelation of Mr Elliot's true character. I was amused by by Sir Walter's vanity even as it appalled me. But Mary, I wanted to hit with a brick. Apologies to all for my vulgarity, but to me she was painful to observe at every encounter.
If this was a slightly less approachable example of Austen, I have to say I'm somewhat heartened by the thought. I will be putting Pride & Prejudice and Emma on my list of must reads.
One of the saving graces of my earlier trouble with this novel was Anne herself. When I read of most romances (because I rarely actually read them), I find the female protagonist painful. Not so for Anne. I really enjoyed this character and I liked Captain Wentworth as well. Finally a relationship where some self-loathing woman is not completely smitten by a cruel and undeserving cad. Anyway - enough to say that I really enjoyed them both and was hopeful of a good outcome.
I'm glad I did not skip this read.