1 July 2022 Susannah

The Jane Austen Remedy

Ruth Wilson & The Jane Austen Remedy

I love to talk about how Jane Austen has changed my life and wrote about the impact of her books in my memoir, Jane & I: A Tale of Austen Addiction. There’s a new book out on the same subject which is so beautifully written, moving and illuminating – I can’t recommend it too highly!

The Jane Austen Remedy by Ruth Wilson is a book about how rereading Jane Austen can cure problems and provide therapy. Ruth had reached a point in her life when all should have been going well, but she felt a malaise she could not explain. She regretted missing out on some of life’s opportunities and felt that, as a woman, she had been pushed into gender-specific roles which did not satisfy her. And so, she set off to live in a cottage in the Southern Highlands on her own and there she embarked on her Jane Austen remedy.

The novels taught her many things – about herself and about other people, and she learned different lessons from each of the six novels. Her journey is a fascinating one and it had some amazing results. In her late 80s, Ruth embarked on a PhD about the importance of teaching Jane Austen in the classroom. She was then asked by a publisher to write this new book. My words of praise are on the cover and I feel proud to have an association with such a thought-provoking and insightful book.

Have you read Ruth’s book? What do you think of the idea of a reading remedy? Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Contemporary library cats have featured in film and literature. The most famous is the appropriately named Dewey (his full name was Dewey Readmore Books) who lived for nineteen years in Iowa’s Spencer Library.

Dewey was dumped in a book return bin, but was rapidly embraced by library staff and the public, and spent the rest of his life promoting reading. Books were published about Dewey (he died in 2008) and the joy he had brought to library patrons. The 1997 film Puss in Books: The Adventures of a Library Cat was a charming movie about various library cats around America. The cats featured have delightful titles – The Boss, Librarian in Charge of Rodent Control, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Library Mascot, and Library King. Some of them have wonderfully bookish names: Stacks, Pages, Browser, Libris, Bibliocat, and Homer are some examples.

Resident library cats demand a managerial role and for their status to be officially recognised by staff and visitors alike. The role can be a demanding one, requiring supervision of the premises from strategic vantage points (generally up high), ensuring books retain that ‘book aroma’, and customer relations (accepting pats from patrons). The position attracts a salary in the form of regular meals and sunny corners.

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Featured image credit- Ruth Wilson & The Jane Austen Remedy, image by John Kars Photography, supplied by Allen & Unwin

Comments (10)

  1. Heather

    I read Ruth Wilson’s The Jane Austen Remedy in two days as I have been in hospital after a fall. I loved it and will purchase a copy from the National Library where I first read a review. Will also reread Jane Austen and like Ruth it’s a long time since I’ve read Northanger Abbey. Thank you also for your recommendation as well.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am so delighted that you loved Ruth’s memoir. She is a remarkable woman and I am so proud to have her as a friend.
      Enjoy your re-readings!

      • Heather

        I noticed towards the end of the book that the Jane Austen Society became involved and thought you would become good friends.

        Cannot wait to get home and start rereading JA. I’ve reread her novels many times apart from Northhanger Abbey and that’s first on the list.

        • Susannah Fullerton

          Such a joy to be re-reading Jane Austen. I’ve never thought Northanger Abbey was quite as great as some of the others, but I still adore it. Have fun!

  2. Maria

    I’ve not read Ruth’s book yet but I look forward to doing so. I was, however, fortunate enough to hear Ruth speak at last month’s JASA meeting. Ruth’s presentation was excellent, extremely enjoyable and thought-provoking. I admire that she is living life on her own terms and am pleased she has found success and contentment. She was truly inspiring (a very overused word, I know) and a most delightful speaker.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Inspiring is exactly the right word for Ruth. I am so proud to call her my friend!

  3. Yvonne Read

    I’ve just collected Ruth‘s book from the library and very much look forward to reading it starting tonight ( wet and cold day)
    I’ve recently read A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz . (how Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship and the Things That Really Matter) . I enjoyed it very much and gave me more insight into Jane Austens novels.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I also loved the William Deresievicz book. Ruth’s book is excellent and I am sure you will enjoy it.

  4. Marjorie June

    Dear Susannah

    I agree about Ruth Wilson’s book. I loved it, especially being a person of a certain age. The book inspired me to read Jane Austin again. Before I read each chapter of Ruth’s book, I read the Jane Austin book that matched the chapter. Its the type of book that when finished one starts reading it again. I was fortunate to receive it for my birthday in April.

    Marjorie June

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I’m so glad you so enjoyed Ruth’s book! I love the idea of re-reading each book before the appropriate chapter.

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