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“**** clues abound,” Natasha Lyonne’s character Nadia says in one of the iterations of her life in Netflix’s “Groundhog Day”-esque “Russian Doll.” One of those biggest clues to Nadia’s macabre, existential adventure lies in the young adult novel “Emily of New Moon.”
In the series, Nadia dies over and over as tragic accidents befall her, but she always resets alive and well in the same bathroom during her 36th birthday party. In the fifth episode, she makes an attempt to try to correct past wrongs and reconnect with her ex-boyfriend by giving a copy of the book “Emily of New Moon” to his teenage daughter. Written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the same author as the “Anne of Green Gables” series, this book also centers on a young orphan girl in turn-of-the-century Prince Edward Island.
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“Everybody loves Anne, but I like Emily. She’s dark,” says Nadia. In one of the reset timelines, she hands the book over to the daughter and says, “It’s not really a present, it’s more like something that we share… Emily is the hero.”
On the surface, young Nadia’s upbringing is similar to protagonist Emily Starr’s. They both have to deal with troubled childhoods — Nadia’s mother was unbalanced and dangerous, while Emily’s father dies when she’s 10 — and are raised by people other than their parents. But it’s Emily’s entire gothic and melodramatic journey into adulthood – “Emily Climbs” and “Emily’s Quest” round out the book trilogy — that offers the most insight into “Russian Doll.”
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After all, as Nadia’s adoptive Aunt Ruth (Elizabeth Ashley) points out, “Holding two incompatible ideas in your head at the same time and accepting both of them, well, that’s the best of being human. Right now I’m looking at you as you are today while also looking at you as that peculiar little...
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