Monday, December 26, 2016

The Consolations of Austen

I loved seeing Susan Chira’s short piece, “The Comforts of Jane,” in the Christmas Day 2016 issue of The New York Times Book Review. She writes there of how in a difficult, painful, and stress-filled time (“when the life of someone I loved was hanging in the balance”), she “turned to reading for solace,” and found the perfect book to (re)read was Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice.” She says that because she already knew the plot, she “could savor the language, satire and repartee, the cutting observations…Austen was irresistible.” She adds, “I wanted escape, but I needed moral resonance.” She goes on to describe all the reasons that this beloved novel was the perfect consolation and companion during the crisis she was living through. Fortunately her story ended well, as “life righted itself.” She, like most Austen devotees, including me, continues to re-read Austen’s novels, and always remembers “how grateful I remain for the comfort I found in her pages.” Readers of this blog know how central Austen’s novels are to my own reading life, so you will understand how I definitely appreciated and connected to Chira’s story.

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