Persuasion – my favourite Austen novel – has a lushly romantic conclusion. But it takes a grownup to see that sometimes there is no triumphant final act
• Bidisha is a critic and author
Despite having been dead for 200 years (come 18 July), Jane Austen’s career is going better than many living 41-year-old novelists I know. A stage adaptation of her last novel, Persuasion, has just finished a run at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and the Royal Literary Society recently hosted an auction of artistic responses to Austen featuring writing by Hilary Mantel and Margaret Atwood, and sketches by Grayson Perry. It seems that reading Austen is not enough; we’re forever drawn to writing about her and her world too, as recent books by John Mullan, Paula Byrne, Helena Kelly and Lucy Worsley demonstrate. Worsley’s book, about the houses Austen stayed in, has also been made into a BBC series.
Yet the way we remember encountering her actual novels is often through being forced to read them at school, with little pleasure. I did Persuasion for my GCSE, and was so bored that I only read every other chapter. In my bag I kept the books I really enjoyed: anything with a cover image of a robot unicorn diving into a tarot card, on Mars.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/17/jane-austen-teenagers-heroines-novels-persuasion