Jane Austen’s Guide to Life is something between a self-help book and a biography of the famous writer. Going into this, I must admit, I wasn’t a fan of Austen. I always found her writing to be tediously long and quite frankly, boring. But that’s not to say I didn’t respect her. Now, after reading this book by Lori Smith, I find myself a fan of Jane Austen as a person.
The book is split into thematic chapters, such as Thinking About Love or Enduring the Hardest Things. Lori Smith then divides each of these chapters into little snippets of advice, with facts from Austen’s life or novels to back up why she thinks Austen would tell the modern woman to, for example, Don’t get too caught up in the idea of “the one” or Treasure the roles you are given. I found a lot of these to be fascinating insights into Jane’s life or her novels, and a lot of them are thought provoking. For instance, when she says to treasure the roles you are given, Smith tells us how even though Austen was never a mother, she was an aunt and she found great joy in that, something I could totally relate to.
I would say that a lot of the advice in this book is generic. Things we’ve all heard before from our mothers or our friends. But it is interesting nonetheless. I picked up this book because I feel like I’m in a sort of mid-life crisis (ten years before actual middle age); I kept reading it because it was a fascinating look into Jane Austen’s era and a comparison of our own modern age. I learned a lot about Ms. Austen and I think that was what I most took away from this book. You don’t have to be a fan of hers to enjoy the read and Lori Smith writes it in such a way that you don’t have to have read any of Austen’s books to get the point (although if you don’t want her books to be spoiled, then maybe you shouldn’t read this book).
Jane Austen’s Guide to Life is a quick and thoughtful read and I would recommend it to any woman. It would make a great gift for a niece, sister, best friend, and even your mother. And of course, to any Jane Austen fan.
My rating: 4/5