You’ve had tastes of Jane Austen from tv and movie adaptations, but are you ready for the the literary plunge? I think this book can serve as a gateway into reading Austen’s books. The author starts out as ambivalent toward dear Jane, but over the course of the book he shows that her novels are not only enjoyable (when given a chance) but still very relevant.
I like that he has a good balance of academic analysis and personal anecdotes. For its length it felt right that we don’t get attached to his family, friends and romantic partners. Instead Austen and her characters are given more importance, because, as he shows us, they are more than passing characters in another romance, they are fully-formed characters in novels, speaking to issues of the day.
Deresiewicz also never gives too much away, which is good for those that may not have read the entire works (yet). He summarizes points that are relevant to his arguments, and uses some superb quotes, but Deresiewicz also shows that he is a master of the English language through some pretty awesome lines. His epitaph-like paragraph to Jane toward the end had me teary.
I liked it, you may like it. Give it a try this summer because it would be a perfect one-day read.