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‘Persuasion’: Why Jane Austen’s most understated novel, soon to be on Netflix, is worth (re)reading

‘Persuasion’: Why Jane Austen’s most understated novel, soon to be on Netflix, is worth (re)reading

Persuasion will be launched on Netflix on July 15 and its trailer was released recently, sparking interest in Jane Austen’s last completed novel, published over 200 years ago. The film, starring Dakota Johnson in the lead role is an addition to the streaming platform’s collection of the on-screen adaptations of Austen’s greatest works: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.

But before diving into a weekend of Regency-era binge-watching, is Persuasion worth a (re)read?

Anne Elliot, an unlikely Austen heroine

While Persuasion has had a devoted fanbase, its quiet, unassuming heroine Anne Elliot has often been overshadowed by the wildly popular Elizabeth Bennett (of Pride and Prejudice), the brash-yet-charming Emma Woodhouse (of Emma), and the Dashwood sisters (of Sense and Sensibility) with all their travails.

Even for the most ardent Austen reader, Persuasion can come as a surprise, lacking in the razor-sharp repartee and searing wit that makes the author a delight to read normally. Anne Elliot too, is an unlikely protagonist. Well-behaved, polite and proper, she is neither headstrong like Elizabeth Bennett, nor mischievous and self-assured like Emma.

On the sidelines of the crowded Austen-verse, Anne holds an unremarkable position at home too. At twenty-eight years of age, she is also far older than most of Austen’s heroines, and...

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