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Book Review: A Jane Austen Education

A Jane Austen Education – How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz

“Like Elizabeth Bennet, I had found my freedom.” – William Deresiewicz

This book is the type of read that makes you go “Why didn’t I think of it like that?”. It is not only gorgeous on the cover (who doesn’t love paper dolls?) and offers plenty of new and personal insights into how you can interpret the works of Austen, but is gorgeous on the inside too. I found a slight battered hardback version for about $5 at my local haunt Basement Books in Central Station, Sydney. You can also pick it up from Amazon for under $20 (and get the wonderful sneak preview read).

Mixing academic writing, textual analysis and a lovely running commentary on Jane Austen set within an autobiographical framework this is a different take on being a Janeite. Deresiewicz, an Austen scholar, explains from the start that he was once a cynic of Austen’s work (and a bit of a self-admitted pretentious git) because of the ‘girly’ connotations surrounding books such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but after reading them and studying them – breaking through the tedium – it dawned on him just what it is that Jane is saying, and why she is as intelligent and interesting as the rest of us think. This book spans his life from student-hood onwards and ends like a Jane novel would.

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