L Greyfort's Reviews > A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
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Oct 05, 11

bookshelves: essays, memoir, philosophy
Read in September, 2011

As someone who has continued to fight the good fight against Austen prejudice for a long time ("Oh, nothing happens in those books. It's just a bunch of rich people sitting around talking about the weather and drinking tea." "Yeah, and then a 15-year-old girl disappears with an older man, and her family doesn't know what's happened to her or where she is for weeks...")("Oh, they're so un-realistic - like nothng bad ever happens in them." "Yeah, right, 'Sense and Sensibility' begins with a widow and her daughters on the verge of being thrown out of their home...no, nothing bad ever happens...") ("Why are these women so wrapped up in getting married?" "What bloody choice do they have??!!"), I approached this book with equal parts hope and trepidation. I was very happliy rewarded.

Deresiewicz's discussion of the books is gloriously clear and straight-forward. He draws clear lines between the plots, characters, and discussions in the book, and life as we live it right here and now. It's so crystalline, one might mistake it for simple-mindedness, as if you knew all this stuff before. But did you really, folks? Did you really think of Jane Austen as someone who says, "You think your neighbors are too boring to bother with? This is real life; get over yourself and get with the program, Emma." Have you ever thought of romanticism and sensibiity as being 'predictable'? That sense might set one on a course of adventure and surprise?

This book is a wake-up call, people. Who are your true friends? What actually makes a good marriage? Can you learn to love someone? Should you? And the author gives full and complete credit to Austen for her super-powers of illustration and explication....

And -- a great relief to discover another compatible soul who wants to take all those over-wrought Bronte-ions, and slap 'em upside the head: "I gotcha madwoman ina attic right heah! Grow the frak up!"

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 ~Geektastic~ "I gotcha madwoman ina attic right heah! Grow the frak up!"

Excellent. I've always felt that way myself.


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