I saw this BBC adaptation on Netflix and thought, “Why not?” and I’m glad I did. Persuasion is simpler than Austen’s other works like Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park. There are some minor storylines, but we don’t get invested in them as we do in Austen’s other books.
In Persuasion, Anne Elliot is surprised when her former fiancé Mr. Wentworth re-enters her life eight years after she turned him down. Her father’s squandered his fortune and must lease his grand home. His tenants turn out to be Mr. Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law.
She has not gotten over him and he still feels the sting of rejection. Anne rejected Wentworth due to the persuasion of her relatives who believed he was too poor for her. Now he’s returned after acquiring a fortune for his success in the navy.
This book lacks a confidante for the heroine and doesn’t have as much wit as one finds in say Sense and Sensibility or Emma or P&P. The father is a self-absorbed fop, but he doesn’t ever face the consequences he seemed to deserve.
Yet I was drawn into the story wondering how the couple would get together. Austen wrote while suffering with the illness that eventually killed her. (Experts can’t agree on what it was.) Thus this book wasn’t revised as carefully as her other books.
While I did like the story it was hard to understand why Wentworth was so smitten with Anne, why he couldn’t forget her. She wasn’t especially beautiful and because she isn’t shown amongst friends we don’t see her wit or spark. She’s a good, dutiful young woman with a churlish family. In real life such women don’t usually catch the eye, let alone spark an enduring love in a handsome young man, I’m not complaining just letting you know this is escapism, not reality.
It’s a short film at just about 90 minutes so you don’t have much time to wish for more characters or dialog. The film moves along at a clip.