"I was twenty-six, and about as dumb, in all human things, as any twenty-six-year-old has a right to be, when I met the woman who would change my life. That she'd been dead for a couple of hundred years made not the slightest difference whatsoever. Her name was Jane Austen, and she would teach me everything I know about everything that matters."
William Deresiewicz's book is a witty, readable gem. It's also the perfect Austen in August book (a month long event hosted by roofbeamreader). I felt like I was chatting about six of my all-time favorite novels with one of my best friends. Deresiewicz's astute insights into each of Austen's novels--books I thought I knew really well--made me want to go back and reread each one with new eyes. Each of Austen's books taught Deresiewicz a different life lesson. For example, Mansfield Park taught him that "Being entertained is not the same as being happy." Pride and Prejudice taught him that "You aren't born perfect. You are born with a whole novel's worth of errors...but making mistakes is the only way to grow up." And in Sense and Sensibility he learned that "Love is about growing up, not staying young." Great life lessons, huh?
Reading this book made me wonder what life lessons I've learned from reading Jane Austen. Here's what I came up with:
- If you're always playing the piano you'll never get asked to dance.
- If a tall handsome stranger finds you 'tolerable' at best the only thing to do is laugh it off with a friend.
- If it looks like rain take an umbrella!
- If you want to catch his eye, show more affection than you feel.
- If you're going to live life like it's a Gothic novel always have enough cab fare in your pocket to see you safely home.
What life lessons have Jane Austen's novels taught you?