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Alfred, Lord Tennyson, while being shown around the famous and historically important Cobb in Lyme Regis, interrupted the history lesson and cut his tour guide short, “Don’t talk to me of the Duke of Monmouth; show me the exact spot where Louisa Musgrove fell!”

Such is the power of Jane Austen’s absolutely peerless Persuasion. It inspires fervent loyalty.  I have more than a few Austen acolytes among my circle (can you even IMAGINE such a glittering circle?) and Persuasion wins the straw poll by double digits; it’s not even close. We are very firm about this: if you’re under 30, you get Pride and Prejudice. If you’re over 30, Persuasion is your book. Anne Elliot gloried in being a sailor’s wife, the state rests, case closed, the end.

Now. All that said, you must studiously avoid the recent Netflix adaptation of our beloved Persuasion. When I say “studiously avoid,” what I mean is, you must not Knit to This at all. The only knitting related thing you are to do if you run across this, oh, let’s say…version…is possibly blind yourself with your needles. Do it quickly, before a single frame of its winking, smirking nonsense crosses your field of vision. You must.

Should your eyesight survive, however, plunk down the three bucks or whatever Amazon or Apple or Google are charging for the 1995 Roger Michell-directed adaptation starring Ciarán Hinds and Amanda Root. You’ve already seen it, of course—but so have I. Eleven times. And I will watch it eleven more. I don’t even have to stream it; I will watch my VHS copy. It’s my favorite of all the Austen adaptations, no matter which book.

Watch it eleven times, though, and you notice some things that you might wanna bring up with Jane, should you ever run into her at a church supper over at the rectory. Like: how did Anne Elliot ever come from this nitwitted family (I have lost sleep over this)? Also, if Lady Russell—who once managed to talk Anne out of marrying Wentworth—had just kept her trap shut a decade earlier, everything would have worked out much sooner. But then we wouldn’t have Persuasion, I suppose.

Someone really should have written a Persuasion prequel by now—the story of Anne turning down Captain Wentworth the first time around. If that already exists, don’t tell me. And especially don’t tell Netflix.

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.


  • Lucky you to have a vhs copy!

  • I could not agree with you more! Persuasion is my favorite Austen book! I did however trade in my VHS copy for a DVD version.

  • I expect it’s on YouTube by now. I just saw the wonderful Thompson version of sense and sensibility there. That said, with Ciaran Hinds, how could persuasion go wrong?? It’s wonderful.

    • I love this version of Persuasion. I have it on VHS and need to get a DVD copy. I’ve also read the book. Ciaran Hinds will always be Capt. Wentworth to me.

  • Totally agree! The whole audience stood and clapped at the end when I saw it in the 90’s

  • I actually enjoyed the new Persuasion (gasp) as light knitting enjoyment. I think I’m the only one. But I do appreciate the highbrow Austen as much as the next knitter.

    • Joining the “I enjoyed it column”.

      Definitely not the best but it certainly had it’s moments and I think it could offer a gateway to the real stuff — the books!!! — for many viewers.

    • You are absolutely not alone. I thoroughly enjoyed the new one. Definitely not classic Austin but it was a very pleasant, somewhat lighthearted, knitting time

      • I enjoy all the adaptations of Persuasion. It’s my favorite Jane Austen. It’s been enjoyable revisiting them over the last few days.

      • My husband and I enjoyed the Netflix version very much. Watched the 1995 version the next day. Not sure, but think we might have enjoyed the Netflix version more. 🙂

    • I enjoyed it too! An interpretation or an adaptation, but fun. I particularly loved what a fun aunt she is. And the ridiculousness of her dad and sisters was right on the mark.

    • No, you are not alone in this . I enjoyed it too!! Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen, and Ciaran Hinds is my favorite Capt. Wentworth, but I enjoyed the more savvy Ann and the winks she shared. I’ve already watched it twice and will watch any and all versions again and again and again. Just saying.

  • I have it on DVD, it’s my comfort movie when things are grim. And my Austen-loving niece warned me about the new version by sending me the trailer to watch (with the comment OMG SO BAD!). Even the trailer made me cringe….

  • I tossed the remote behind the couch and stomped out fuming. I’m surprised that I had such a strong reaction and wonder why I have an emotional attachment to Amanda Root’s and Sally Hawkins’ (BBC 2007) Anne. Happy to hear I am not alone rewatching these earlier adaptations regularly. Of course, the book is sublime! Pick it up, flip anywhere in the book and enjoy a quiet read of a few pages for a great restorative.

  • I’m afraid your warning came too late. I have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to have Dakota Johnson simper her way through this adaptation.

    • Absolutely.

  • My favourite too by a very long chalk.

  • I agree with every single word you have just said. There has never been justification for a remake, once the perfect version has already been made.

  • I’m sure my husband thanks you as now I’ll remove the Netflix remake from my “must watch” list!

  • I read a review of the new travesty and knew after just a few lines that I would avoid this by all means necessary. Sacrilege!

  • I enthusiastically agree with most of what you say !! I read all the Austen books for the first time when I was well under 30. ( Ah, those were the days!!).Persuasion was the last one that I read and when I finished, I immediately began it again. It was always my favorite….even as a mere tyke!!

  • I’m sorry~ but I disagree. As an English major and an Austen fan. #1 reason to watch the new version- DIVERSITY. It’s wonderful to see these adaptations come to the screen with a modern take, especially with talented diverse actors. I was dreading it but actually enjoyed a beautiful Anne with much more feeling and regret than the original. I do think Ciaran Hinds is the best version of Wentworth.

    • Oh, I don’t disagree about the diversity angle. It’s the, oh, 1% of what the new version does that I found good and interesting (though I’d mention that “Clueless” got there first and better, as did the kind of also-terrible “Bridgerton”). It’s the other 99% I object to. I mean – why did they bother to use “Persuasion” as source material at all (other than the fact that it’s in the public domain) if they were going to alter or eliminate so much, both from the plot and the general tone? None of what’s left has much at all to do with the novel; by the time they get to the famous “half hope, half agony” letter, the only feeling I came away with was…surprise is that this idiot version of Anne could read at all.

      “Persuasion” is Austen’s least comedic plot, filled with regret and heartbreak and genuine desperation; this version plays it like it’s an Adam Sandler movie about a bored jug-wine-drinking eternal bachelorette. It’s a bit like me reading a plot synopsis of Genesis and then writing an absurd comedy about a sneaky talking snake who has adventures…and calling it “The Bible.”

      But my biggest fear about turning this piece in has come true – we’re spending all this time talking about this dumb new crime against literature instead of the nearly-perfect earlier version. I’m sure the makers of the new one knew that would be the case and that’s why they made the decisions they did: to stick it to and “own” the Austenites among us.

      • Well said!

      • Exactly. The wine; and especially the octopus … what were they thinking? Anne Elliot is not an idiot or fool.
        1995 Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root version all the way.

      • I agree I watched this version with friends and 10 mins in I said – this is a travesty….and then just knit and paíd it no mind- although I did contemplate stabbing something other than my yarn!

  • I agree with you. I have the DVD and every once in a while, I need to pull it out and get my fix.

  • Agreed! My sisters and I have had this same discussion. I did watch the new version but I did not knit to it.

  • The book has always been my favorite Austen as well, but I still love P&P – it works for this 60+ Knitter. Thanks for the warning about the new Netflix version. I own the Amanda Root version as well. And I could NOT watch the Kiera Knightley P&P either.

    • That Keira Knightly P&P is a really odd mix – they read a Jane Austen novel and decided to make an Emily Brontë movie out of it! I don’t much like it, but every time I run across it, I watch it all the way through to the end.

  • Ah, DG. I love you dearly, but must disagree on this one. I very much enjoyed the Netflix version of Persuasion. I won’t try to knit to it as I’d miss the sly winks and side glances. If we’re going to talk about simpering characters, my vote would be for Captain Wentworth.

  • DG, you pierce my soul.

    My favorite Austen. Mature, melancholy. And that letter (and the letter scene).

  • Sorry, I thought the Netflix version was perfectly ok!

  • Can anyone recommend an audio version, meaning who is the best narrator? There’s so many choices on my Libby app and after reading your enticing letter DG, and everyone’s comments, I need to listen to it soon.

    • Juliet Stevenson does a beautiful reading of all Jane Austen’s books. A friend once said that Juliet S. could read the phone book and make it enthralling….

    • There is a verrrrry good one read by Juliet Stevenson that’s aces all around. I think Audible has it.

      • Now I’m curious to hear that one! I have access to multiple local(ish) library systems on Libby; found it on one of them so I just placed a hold.

      • Thanks! I didn’t find that narrator on Libby but I will try the version read by Greta Scacchi.

      • Yes, Juliet Stevenson’s reading is top-rate.

        The Netflix film, however, is not. By the time this version of Anne walks, fully clothed, into the drink at Lyme, I’m ready for her to go full Ophelia.

  • Ah, Persuasion. My absolute favorite!

  • I own the DVD of the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root version and, thank goodness, my laptop has an external DVD drive so I can watch it over and over again. Great for sock knitting. And comfort viewing, as Marthaw said.

  • Your advice was too late. And the fourth wall! A little goes a long way. It was a bit like watching Deadpool, with less gore and swearing, and fun.

  • I am in agreement with you! I was skeptical when saw it pop up on Netflix. I watched it, but I wished I hadn’t afterwards. And I agree that the 1995 version is sublime….The emotional build up to the kiss is so much more satisfying than all the filler sex on our screens these days.

    • That kiss in the 1995 version – and that they do it in public, on the street – was much-discussed at the time. I did read once that the director knew it was anachronistic but that while a book that is ostensibly ultimately a romance could end without showing its audience a climactic kiss, a movie of that same thing definitely could NOT leave it out. I think both sides are correct: it’s probably a little bit of a no-no for the time and place… but also completely necessary.

      • The 1995 version is my absolute favorite bi watch it every other year. I have no interest in watching the Netflix version.

  • I still remember watching this version several years ago after my book club discussion and how absolutely gorgeous and glorious Ciarn Hinds was. Spectacular specimen of chivalry! Persuasion Perfection! And I was beyond delighted to see him again in the movie Belfast. He’s actually worthy of setting down one’s knitting!

  • Miss Austen would not at all approve of doing ourselves violence with knitting needles! However the 1995 film is a nearly perfect rendering of Persuasion, and maybe the best film version of any Austen novel. (Though the PBS Northanger Abbey is a close contender for that title.). There is one failure of continuity in this Persuasion when Anne walks into Mrs. Smith’s house wearing one costume, and walks out wearing another. Another, more serious, flaw is that a scene Austen rightly cut from the novel is included. And as with 99.9% of Persuasion adaptations, they did not understand how important it is to cast an exceptionally beautiful woman as Elizabeth (although Phoebe Nichols is an excellent actress, and appropriately attired, a handsome woman). So yes, knit to this!

  • Too late! Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel too, and although this new Netflix version used the novel as a rough storyline only, I enjoyed it. Perhaps that’s because it so often squeezed humour out of the familiar events. I’ve never seen the Amanda Root version, and I can’t wait!

  • I am 100% in agreement with your assessment of the 1995 movie!! Ciaran Hinds became a favorite then and has remained one – even through Game of Thrones…

  • Absolutely the best version! Most public libraries have the DVD. Get it from the library for free.

  • Ha! This read gave me some great laughs and a much appreciated warning!!!
    Thank you for giving me a perfect Saturday afternoon watch!

  • A “few” years ago when multiple remakes of JA films were becoming a Thing, Persuasion was pretty much dismissed (to my horror). The ’95 film in my opinion was a great script, the costuming was terrific, and the actors/actresses were the best ever. Amanda Root had a direct line to JA. I enjoyed Ciaran Hinds and thought he was excellent also, but then read the book and found out he was supposed to be a classic pretty boy. I decided that I was perfectly ok with ignoring that point (sorry, Miss Austen). I was thrilled when I found out it was scheduled for a re-make. That didn’t last long, and I’m not sorry at all that I’ve cancelled the Netflix subscription.

    • Yes 15 minutes of that and I finally made the move to cancel my subscription as well!.

  • I LOVE 1995 PERSUASION (and the actual book)

  • Oooohhh, this review & all comments were delightful to read! I only needed 30 seconds of previews of the remake to opt out. And the 1995 version is just so stinking good. Either of the actresses narrating the audio version would be wonderful to knit to, thanks for that info & an interesting debate.

  • Possibly Persuasion doesn’t adapt easily to comedy? I’ve read that Austen fan Helen Fielding has said she drew from Persuasion for her 2nd Bridget Jones novel (see Wikipedia) and that film (BJ The Edge of Reason) also fell on its face.

  • Thank you! I’m going to avoid it. I’ll rewatch the older version. Thank you for the reminder of that one.

  • 1995 version was definitely the best, but I have to admit I didn’t hate the Netflix version. The most striking flaw to me is that the story is supposed to start with Anne being a wan shadow of her former self. Dakota Johnson is just way too pretty.

    • Yeah, this Anne is off from the start in several regards. Anne is supposed to be heartbroken, and not just for herself. She’s also keenly aware that her actions have broken someone ELSE’S heart, and that’s just as unbearable. She’s also portrayed as kind of a hot mess, which is decidedly not what Austen wrote.

      There’s a piece out there – Persuasion is a Hate Crime that REALLY has a go at it (it’s a lot more personal for him, whereas I’m just bothered that it’s super-lousy) that describes this incarnation of Anne as “a stumbling, bumbling disaster lady,” and that’s about right. The minute the contents of a gravy boat pour on her head – which happens quite early – I said out loud “I don’t know exactly who this is, but she’s not Anne Elliot.”

      • In case that link isn’t working, here it is again; just copy and paste this in your browser.

        • Thank you for the link. Agree with you and the other reviewer, who is spot on when they point out that this new version made _Persuasion_ into a silly rom com denuded of Austin’s points about class, the rules of social hierarchy, wealth, and gender. But _Clueless_ was a also rom com, but with all the sharp wit and commentary about class and gender. It also had a diverse cast, as you mention, and was also a great interpretation of _Emma_.

          Richard E. Grant was perfect for Sir Walter in the Netflix version, but so was the socialist activist Colin Redgrave who knew to play Sir Walter as a self-obsessed, stupid, and ridiculous figure. Sophie Thompson as Mary was also terrific, as was Fiona Shaw as Mrs. Croft. Louisa as played made more sense in the 1995 version: headstrong and risk-taking. Want to add that Henry Golding was wasted in this new version. If you wanted diversity, it would have been great if he were cast as Wentworth.

          The 1995 version, dare I say, improved the ending of the original. Not by the kiss, of course, but by heightening the dramatic tension. When Charles asks Wentworth he asks which way he is going, Wentworth/Hinds looks at Anne/Root with desperate eyes and says, “I don’t know.” Where he goes geographically and where he goes for the rest of his life hinged on her response.

          All in all, you can’t knit to the new Netflix version because you’re too busy grabbing the remote in order to fast forward through the film to get it over with.

  • I haven’t read Persuasion and I loved the Netflix version. So now I will have to both read the book and watch your favorite version. I am over 30 and so far Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. I know I’ve read other Jane Austin books but don’t remember them at all.

  • 100%!! It is the best of all Austen books, and this version is the absolute best adaptation. Because I love the book so much, I am curious of course about the new adaptation… but no. I will just rewatch the perfect 1995 adaptation. Amanda Root is to die for.

  • You’re absolutely right.

    • I entirely disagree with you and thoroughly recomend this latest adaptation/interpretation. I have just reread Persuasion and Gill Hornbys Gadershanm Park. Gill Hornby gives a thought provoking description of life in Jane Austens time. It is not a frozen rigid description but presents a lively “what might have been”. Its easy to imagine what we read when reading the original is that that is all there is. But great literature is open to all sorts of interpretations, (eg Shakespesre) and that helps to apply it to today. All the storys had indeed been written by men, (to refence Persusion) does that mean that men should categorically tell what we should or shouldn’t watch? And when we should poke our eyes out?

      • I enjoyed the 2007 version of Persuasion with Sally Hawkins. I think she does a beautiful job of portraying a sensible and sensitive Ann. The rest of the cast is brilliant as well.

  • Persuasion use one of my least favorites, but I agree that this newest adaptation is silly.

  • Depending on which streaming service used, there are actually two different endings to the 1995 Persuasion. One leaves them kissing in the street. The other takes them back to Anne’s old house. Not that I’m a JA freak or anything……..

    Saw the NYT review panning the new version and I’m not surprised your review aligns, DG! You’ve given me some excellent watching/listening suggestions. Right now I’m going through the Long Way Round/Down/Up series. Not JA, but lots of good scenery including Ewan McGregor…..

  • Thank yo for not liking something!

  • You crack me up in the best way possible! LOL! Your enthusiasm (or the reverse) is positively infectious. Thanks for the laughter and the smile this left me with.

  • Sorry, DG. Your review doesn’t work for me because you aren’t telling me why it doesn’t work for you, or why your favorite version is so much better.

    • My “Knit to This” task is not to “review” things. I’m not a critic. Ann and Kay ask me to tell you about things I’m excited about (or in some cases…not). That’s what I did. Sorry it didn’t “work” for you – not everything’s for everybody!

  • Laughed out loud! My friend watched the new version and hated it so much she immediately texted everyone she knew to warn them off! She will enjoy the ‘blind yourself’ notion

  • It is hard to improve on perfection and the 1990s version is perfect. I so wanted to love Sally Hawkins in the part when it was remade by the BBC, and as lovely an actress as she is that scene at the end when she runs up and down the street just annoys me. Whereas the moment when Ciaran Hinds as Wentworth shows up at the card party asking for Anne’s hand in marriage, and her father asks “whatever for?” is quiet perfection.

    • Loved your thoughts! Gotta rewatch it and hear “whatever for” again. Thanks.

  • Loved this review! Couldn’t agree more. I have the VHS copy of the amazing Amanda Root version, but watching the latest travesty with Dakota Johnson sent me running to also buy the digital version on Amazon. I can’t get enough of the 1995 version!

  • It’s kind of funny really, how one adaptation of Persuasion is better worse than another. I agree that the 1995 version is the most honest adaptation and it is my all time favorite. I watch it at least twice each year. However it’s just a movie. Jane isn’t going to see it and be heart broken when Anne go any quite the character she wrote.

  • I COMPLETELY agree with your sentiments! Ciaran Hinds is an incredible Captain Wentworth and Amanda Root cannot be compared as the sad and troubled but wise Anne. Thanks for the warning about the latest one!

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