Reader’s Digest article on Jane Austen’s wallflower characters

A still from Persuasion (2022)

“What is so special about Austen’s wallflowers?”

A new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion is being released in July 2022 – and its trailer raised a lot of questions.

There are merits in adapting books for the screen in new ways. For instance, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is a good example of an adaptation that is successful for its unconventionality. Adapting books creatively can be especially welcome in the case of classics like Austen novels, which have already been adapted countless times.

However, this new adaptation of Persuasion has me sceptical. Is overhauling the protagonist’s character an inventive improvement? Or is it a sign that the film’s creators don’t see the value in Austen’s wallflower characters?

“…These wallflower characters are not Austen’s most memorable or beloved. They are sometimes even decried for being passive and supposedly dull, and are consequently overlooked (pour one out for Fanny Price).

“Yet many of Austen’s most thought-provoking characters are passive or reserved in some way, hesitating for reasons that make clear the myriad constraints they and others struggle to navigate in pursuit of a good life.”

You can read my full article about the value and subversiveness of Austen’s wallflower characters on the Reader’s Digest website here.