Bridget'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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Jun 14, 2012

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Read in June, 2012

3.5 stars. I was really hot and cold on this one. Sometimes I loved it because it was like talking over all the Jane Austen books with someone who appreciates them just as much as I do, and a literary expert (well, PhD) no less. Plus, the author was really likeable, which is essential in a memoir like this one where all you're doing is spending time with this guy and the thoughts inside his mind. Other times, however, it rubbed me the wrong way because it turned into something like a book club discussion with just this one other person (the author) and he was the only one who ever got to talk (because it's his book, you know).

Plus, at times I wasn't sure who the intended audience for this book was. For people who already love Jane Austen (like me), this book is pages and pages of preaching to the choir. So maybe it's for those who don't care to read Jane Austen books, then? Well, no, because he assumes a great deal of familiarity with all of Austen's books. He throws around character names and plot points and spoilers and excerpts of key passages with very little introduction or resolution - for example, he talks for pages and pages about Fanny Price being the target of Henry Crawford's affections but I don't think he ever mentions the fact that Fanny rejected him and married Edmund instead.

So I guess the key audience for this book is someone like the author, or at least someone like he was at the beginning of the book - somebody who has read one or two Jane Austen books and hasn't cared for them at all. I can think of only one person in my entire acquaintance who has read Jane Austen and NOT liked her, so that is a very small sliver of audience indeed.

Anyway, the point is that you will probably enjoy good portions of this book - quite a bit, even - if you like Jane Austen. But get ready for the preachiness.
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