In 1813 England, 29-year old Anne Elliot lives an oppressive life with her father, Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall, and her elder sister Elizabeth, both of whom are incurable snobs. Eight and a half years ago, Anne been persuaded to refuse an offer of marriage from the man she loved, a young naval officer of no position or fortune. Now, after the Napoleonic wars, Captain Wentworth has gained both rank and money, and chance has thrown them together again. Anne finds herself confronted with thoughts of might-have-been as she watches Wentworth court her brother-in-law's sister, Louisa.
But an accident causes Wentworth to realize whom he truly cares for, and he follows Anne to Bath. But her cousin William (the heir to Kellynch Hall) is also pursuing her and is rumored to be engaged to Anne. And she must overcome this last obstacle before she can persuade Captain Wentworth as to the true nature of her affections.