A Jane Austen Education, William Deresiewicz

[amazon_image id=”1594202885″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter[/amazon_image]Part memoir, part literary criticism, William Deresiewicz’s book [amazon_link id=”1594202885″ target=”_blank” ]A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter[/amazon_link] examines the life lessons Jane Austen’s six major novels had for the author, a former professor at Yale and literary critic. The book is organized around the six novels and different lessons each taught (along with a concluding chapter):

  • Emma Everyday Matters
  • Pride and Prejudice Growing Up
  • Northanger Abbey Learning to Learn
  • Mansfield Park Being Good
  • Persuasion True Friends
  • Sense and Sensibility Falling in Love

Until the very end of the book, I wasn’t sure whether I liked the author. He slowly reveals some of the problems he had and how he became the person he is today through his reading and application of Austen’s lessons. In the process, he is truthful about his character as it was being formed, warts and all. By the end of the book, however, the author emerges as a thoughtful, likeable, and worthy gentleman. His lessons are sometimes hard-won, and Deresiewicz does not stint at telling the truth, even at his own expense. His insights into Austen’s novels, particularly [amazon_link id=”0141439807″ target=”_blank” ]Mansfield Park[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0141040378″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link], made me think about Austen’s novels in new ways. If you are an Austen fan, Deresiewicz will help you see her novels in a new way, and if you aren’t one, he just might convert you. Most of all, he made me want to pick up Austen’s books again to see if I could see in them what he did. I can’t believe I missed some of this stuff. But that’s what good teachers do—they help you see what you missed.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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