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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter 
Publisher: Penguin Press HC
ISBN: 1594202885
Pages: 272 pgs
Genre: Jane Austen/Memoir
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge


Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound  


Summary from publisher:

An eloquent memoir of a young man's life transformed by literature.

In A Jane Austen Education, Austen scholar William Deresiewicz turns to the author's novels to reveal the remarkable life lessons hidden within. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his own experiences to demonstrate the enduring power of Austen's teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature student to a happily married man, Deresiewicz's A Jane Austen Education is the story of one man's discovery of the world outside himself.

A self-styled intellectual rebel dedicated to writers such as James Joyce and Joseph Conrad, Deresiewicz never thought Austen's novels would have anything to offer him. But when he was assigned to read Emma as a graduate student at Columbia, something extraordinary happened. Austen's devotion to the everyday, and her belief in the value of ordinary lives, ignited something in Deresiewicz. He began viewing the world through Austen's eyes and treating those around him as generously as Austen treated her characters. Along the way, Deresiewicz was amazed to discover that the people in his life developed the depth and richness of literary characters-that his own life had suddenly acquired all the fascination of a novel. His real education had finally begun.

Weaving his own story-and Austen's-around the ones her novels tell, Deresiewicz shows how her books are both about education and themselves an education. Her heroines learn about friendship and feeling, staying young and being good, and, of course, love. As they grow up, they learn lessons that are imparted to Austen's reader, who learns and grows by their sides.

A Jane Austen Education is a testament to the transformative power of literature, a celebration of Austen's mastery, and a joy to read. Whether for a newcomer to Austen or a lifelong devotee, Deresiewicz brings fresh insights to the novelist and her beloved works. Ultimately, Austen's world becomes indelibly entwined with our own, showing the relevance of her message and the triumph of her vision.
My Review:  

I am late with this review because of a doctor’s appointment from Hades. In the waiting room for over 3 hours only to be told that I have bronchitis (which I knew) and I needed meds (the only reason I went). I made the mistake of assuming that because it was the early morning I would not need to schedule my post and I would be home in time. I was wrong.

I was delighted to see a book about Jane Austen that wasn’t a sequel or adaptation. It’s nice and refreshing even though I will read any Jane Austen sequel or adaptation that comes my way. Jane Austen taught all of her fan(atic)s lessons through her books even though we may be reading for other reasons. I learned so many lessons from Jane Austen that it’s hard to compute how much she has taught me. I mean we all love Darcy but when the book’s over it’s what she taught you that sticks with you long after you finish reading. I think that’s why so many people love Jane Austen so much.

I think this was one of the most interesting memoirs I have ever picked up. It combined Jane Austen with William Deresiewicz’s life story very well. I was actually surprised about how much detail about Austen’s works was in this book. I felt like I was reading through someone else’s eyes. I thought that it was so interesting to view Jane Austen’s novels through someone else’s life experiences. I did have some worries that it would be a bit boring but it was so interesting and I literally couldn’t put it down once I started. I even reread it once in the doctor’s office from Hades. 

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.


  1. There DOES seem to be a plethora of Jane Austen sequels and spinoffs, doesn't there?! I'm so glad that this book was a great read - the cover is fun, and the idea of this coming from a male perspective makes it rather irresistible in my opinion. :)

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. I have been wondering about this book, it has definitely caught my attention and I know that I will be reading it soon! Loved your review.



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