The Jane Austen Remedy

This book was an absolute treat! Ruth Wilson looks back over a long life (she is nearly 90) through the lens of re-reading each of Jane Austen's novels and shares her wisdom and insight, with delightful gentle humour, sharp judgment and thoughtful reflection. As she approached seventy, she realised that she needed to distance herself from her marriage and find her own space; she found herself a small cottage and a new life in the NSW Southern Highlands and reclaimed time and space for reading, thinking, gardening and friendship. It sounds idyllic in a way, and was also necessary for her mental health, but it was also painful (particularly for her family).

As Wilson reflects on Austen's life as well as her own history, we see the parallels in family, love, work, reading, and friendships, as well as more unexpected connections, for example in theatre, education and public speaking. I love books about reading and this one is exceptional, as Wilson, even after eighty odd years of reading Jane Austen's novels, discovers new ideas and interpretations. The books ends with a wonderful 'prescription' recommending the ideal ages and intervals for optimal reading and re-reading.

The Jane Austen Remedy is at once an enjoyable memoir and a wonderful examination of Jane Auten's novels. Slight spoiler: Wilson ended up moving into an apartment just upstairs from her husband's, back in Sydney, and describes them as LATs (Living Together Apart). I'm sure Jane Austen would have loved it.


  1. Next on my to-read list, Kate! It sounds like something I would love.

  2. Yes, I think it might be right up your alley!