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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 William Deresiewicz (P)2011 Penguin Audio

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one of the best books I've heard recently

This a great book, probably better for listening than for reading I suspect. It is well-narrated, well-paced, always interesting and stimulating, and oddly enough, it might leave you a better person at the end (without any preaching at all). The author successfully interweaves his own life story (perhaps being a bit hard-hearted on himself, for effect ... hard to know), with Jane Austen's life story and her time, with the main plot points and characters of Austen's novels. The interplay between these three sets of stories is what makes the book so exciting to listen to -- things that happen to the author, to Austen and to her characters I mean. I recommend this book highly.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Cookie
  • Anacortes, WA, United States
  • 06-23-11

A real joy!

This book was like taking a collage class later in life and rereading the books you loved (or not) with the advantage of wanting to take the class. We are brought along the life of the author told with an Austen like storyline. The stroll though the books (with no spoilers) and the insights into reall life applications are so concrete and pithy as to make me wish I had thought of "that". Historical detail into Austen's life is perfectly woven though the story as well. Oh, if only Jane Austen had written more books, this book could have been longer. The reader was great.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Sheila
  • Champaign, IL, United States
  • 04-02-12

Great entertainment

Would you consider the audio edition of A Jane Austen Education to be better than the print version?

Yes, I love the narrator's voice and inflections

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Jane Austen Education?

I looked at Austen differently than I have before. Enlightening.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes

Any additional comments?

Even Austenites will enjoy this.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Give Me More!

William Deresiewicz has given the lover of Jane Austen just what she wants: validation and analysis into why Austen's stories are timeless. Mr. Deresiewicz begins by telling us how dull he found Austen when required to read "Emma" for a college class, but as he rereads the novel he discovers the magic that Austen lovers know so well. He then takes each Austen book and shows us how the lessons of love and romance she weaves into her narratives are still applicable today???and how they changed his life. I loved this book and am looking forward to rereading it!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 04-01-13

What books can teach us

One of the people I follow recommended this book so I decided to give it a try. William Deresiewicz tells of his time as a graduate student his writing his doctoral thesis on Jane Austin. He explains what he learned from her six novels for example the importance of friendship, of knowing one;s true self, of community and love--falling in love vs grow into it. He shows us the passages from Austin's books and tells of how this played out in his life. This is a funny and at times moving book about the power of literature to influence our world view and our daily life. Sean Pratt did a good job narrating the book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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I loved this book!

I love Jane Austen and read her in the '70s when I was a struggling actress. So it was great to hear this book from the perspective of a once-snarky New York bigoted male, who came to love her too! I would recommend this to anyone. You'll love the Jane Austen ending!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Part Memoir, part literary analysis

Although I enjoyed this book, it was a light entertainment that was neither as satisfying as a real memoir nor as intellectually stimulating as literary analysis. The narration was okay, maybe even better than that, but there was something about the tone of the text that kept making me considering just dropping it without finishing.

I love Jane Austen, sometimes I would rather read Jane Austen's novels for the tenth time than start a new book that will surely disappoint, but in the end it was only my passion for anything Jane Austen that got me through this book. I can't help but find something condescending about the author's attitude....it's just something from which I couldn't escape and which robbed the book of much of its potential pleasure. I think I might have enjoyed a similar type of book by a different author.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I couldn't believe it!

I love to read, and one Author I love to come back to is Jane Austen, in part because every time i read her i get something new out of it, and because I listened to the Jane Austen book club Audible thought I would like this and they where right! it is such an interesting perspective, and I got so much out of this book, learned so much about the characters that I have loved for years that I am going to go back and re introduce myself. Fantastic, amazing, incredible book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wasn't able to get into it.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A different story would have made it better. It was annoying and I wasn't able to finish it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Katalin
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 10-19-12

A nice way to revisit Austen's books...

Would you consider the audio edition of A Jane Austen Education to be better than the print version?

As I have not seen the print version, I cannot say for sure, but I enjoyed the audio edition immensely.

What did you like best about this story?

The way the author interpreted and talked about Austen's books without giving too much away (in case the reader was not familiar with a particular book) was great. It made me think about things I missed from the first time around.

Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

As this book is written from the author's point of view, there was really only one character in there to perform. I thought the narrator did a great job with timing punchlines and showing emotion, though.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh a few times, but I'm not sure if that would be the same for someone who is not really familiar with Austen's works.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book to any Austen fan for a light read, and also to people who have yet to read any of her novels, as I think this just might be the hook they need.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful