Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life
On Love, Friendship, and Becoming the Person God Created You to Be
by Haley Stewart
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Pub Date 25 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 20 May 2022
Popular Catholic podcaster Haley Stewart insists that there’s no better life coach than nineteenth-century British novelist Jane Austen.
In this uniquely Catholic take, Stewart reveals Austen’s thoughtful, deeply personal exploration of human relationships—including with God—through her six novels. Stewart’s insights take you on a journey that is both literary and spiritual, revealing how Austen’s characters and themes can lead to you to discover and become the person God has called you to be.
Stewart draws fascinating connections between Austen’s novels and real life and introduces Austen as a capable life coach by how she guides her readers to understand virtue and vice through friendship, love, community, and God’s grace. Austen’s characters reveal how virtuous habits transform us and help us become who we were meant to be. Each chapter focuses on characters and virtues from a single novel:
· Do you find yourself swayed by superficial charm and yearn to see others more clearly? Let Elizabeth Bennet teach you how to recognize substance in others and address the pride in your own heart through the cultivation of humility (Pride and Prejudice).
· Are you stuck in selfishness that wounds others (and yourself)? Let Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley help you develop the compassion to see the world more clearly with the eyes of Christ (Emma).
· Do you get swept away into poor choices due to a lack of self-control? Let the Dashwood sisters show you the virtue of temperance and guide you to embrace your God-given personality and temperament (Sense and Sensibility).
· Do you have treasured ideals but struggle to live them out? Follow along with Edmund Bertram’s journey toward constancy through the example of Fanny Price (Mansfield Park).
· Have the disappointments of life grown resentment or bitterness in your heart? Be inspired by Anne Elliot’s vulnerable fortitude in the storms of life (Persuasion).
· Do you struggle to know what to do or who to believe in tricky situations? Join Catherine Morland in learning prudence to know and act on the truth (Northanger Abbey).
Whether you are already an Austen fan or are discovering her works for the first time, Stewart’s infectious enthusiasm and captivating spiritual insights will have you digging in to experience firsthand the characters and stories that have captured imaginations in book and film for more than two centuries.
Discussion questions and recommended film adaptations make this book suitable for individual or group use or as a high school classroom or homeschool resource. A free, downloadable leader’s guide is available at avemariapress.com.
A Note From the Publisher
Stewart is the author of The Grace of Enough and cohosts the Fountains of Carrots podcast. She has contributed to Evangelization & Culture, Plough, the University of Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal, Public Discourse, America, and the Word on Fire blog. She has four children and is married to a beekeeper and whisky distiller. Stewart lives in Waco, Texas, where she haunts the local bookshop and reads Jane Austen. She also writes children’s fiction.
“You’ll return to this book again and again for its deep voice of intelligent friendship and lively, joy-filled faith.”
Word on Fire Catholic Ministries
“With a light but sure touch, Haley Stewart shows how we can learn to be more virtuous people through emulating Jane Austen’s heroines, and in the process, we come to appreciate Austen’s writings all the more.”
Cardinal Francis George Fellow of Faith and Culture
Word on Fire Institute
“I have been leaning on Jane Austen’s works to get me through tough times and to celebrate the great ones for more than twenty-five years, and ‘life coach’ is the best way to describe her. Haley Stewart also has a lot to say about virtue and putting it into practice. This book is a superbly featured work!”
Cohost of the Plaid Skirts & Basic Black podcast
“Jane Austen as life coach? Haley Stewart’s delightful handbook just might convince you that the answers you’ve been looking for have been in the pages of your favorite novels all along.”
Creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 36 members
My admiration for Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life begins with the title. I have long been a fan of the author Austen, who is known best for her seminal work Pride & Prejudice. I agree that Austen is a genius, and I am quite interested in her guide to life.
Author Haley Stewart, also an admirer of Austen, has produced a work as lovely as a carriage ride through the English countryside. She begins with the brilliant premise that we can look to Austen as a life coach, helping us to navigate the social and personal challenges which confront us each day.
Stewart uses examples from Austen's novels to show us how to cultivate virtues such as humility and prudence. Her character explorations are spot-on. In her winsome way, she brings these characters to life for a modern audience.
Stewart also provides a helpful synopsis of each of Austen's books to help readers who may not be familiar with the breadth of the British novelist's works. This would be the perfect book for the Austen fan in your life!
I received an ARC of, Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life, by Haley Stewart. As a Catholic and a fan of Jane Austen, I really enjoyed this book. I love how she meshed Jane Austen's characters and life with the Catholic faith.
I jumped at the opportunity to get an ARC of this new book by Haley Stewart to review. I love Jane Austen and this is a book for anyone who loves her writing, wants to be introduced to it, or wants to delve more deeply into these books that have captured imagination for generations after their publication. Realizing I had not yet read all of Austen's writing, I binge-read the novels I had not yet read as I read Haley's book, which made reading this Genius Guide all the more enriching (and also got me ahead of the inevitable spoilers in Haley's book!) I enjoyed Haley's insights into each novel and how Austen manages to illustrate virtue and vice in everyday life while still being highly entertaining. Who knew a 19th century novelist could serve as a 21st century life coach?
This book could be used, alongside Austen's novels, as a fantastic book club guide. I can see book clubs doing six months on Jane Austen by reading one novel every month and then reading and discussing the chapter in Haley's Genius Guide that covers that book. There are discussion questions for each chapter at the end, a synopsis of each Austen novel, and a recommendation list for the best Austen movie adaptations.
This book is a great read and also a great gift for any literature lover in your life. I highly recommend it.
Fans of Jane Austen will love this book. As someone making her way through the classics. It was interesting to glean life lessons from Jane Austen's collection.
Delightful book, looking at Austen's novels considering the traditional virtues and how the characters in each focus on one of them. After looking at this, the author relates it to other great works, molly Dante and to Marian theology.
For folks not familiar with Austen's six novels there is an appendix with summaries of each. Other additional material includes a suggested reading list and study questions.
I really loved this short book.
Imagining Austen as a life coach, author Haley Stewart uses each of Austen's six novels and demonstrates the work in growing in different virtues each provides. Having already read Austen's works will likely help you better understand Stewart's arguments, and examples; she does provide enough background about the stories that even an Austen novice could read and enjoy this book. There are also two appendixes which provide even more information about characters and plot points.
The idea of growing in virtue has its roots in Christianity, but Stewart also does very good job here making the information approachable and the lessons universal. I would recommend this book to anyone interesting in looking deeper in beloved literature to see what it may have to teach you about living a fuller life.
Both eloquent and thoughtful, the author does a good job explaining how Jane Austen's novels, characters, and personal life express eternally minded virtues and ideas. As a fan of Jane Austen and a person of faith I enjoyed reading this book and I'm inspired to finish reading more of Austen's novels.
I was immediately struck by the title of Haley Stewart’s non-fiction book that reads in full Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life on Love, Friendship, and Becoming the Person God Created You to Be. As a true Janeite (an enthusiastic admirer of Jane Austen’s writings) and a born-again Christian I knew I had to read this book and thankfully NetGalley generously granted All Things Jane Austen a PDF copy to review.
What I read was terrific. Haley’s premise is that we can look to Ms. Jane Austen as our life coach when dealing with day to day social and personal challenges. Even thought Jane Austen lived and wrote in the 1800s, her characters and stories still resonate with us today and are relevant in many regards. Just look at all the movies and musicals and books based on Jane Austen’s works?
Haley Stewart does a great job covering all of Jane Austen’s beloved novels and heroines from Anne Elliot (Persuasion) who demonstrated “vulnerable fortitude in the storms of life” to Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) who learns to “address the pride in [her] own heart through the cultivation of humility”.
As Haley points out in the beginning of her book, Jane Austen may not “preach” but she expertly illustrates virtue and vice in everyday life. This same virtue and vice can be found in today’s world hence making Jane Austen’s books and stories a timeless lesson for us all.
This book would make for a great devotional or better yet as a guide for your next book club reading. Consider perhaps reading this non-fiction book alongside all of Jane Austen’s novels. You could easily dig deep and make this a six month book club challenge or focus on the Haley Stewart book alone over the course of a month.
Again, my thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for review. All opinions are my own.
FULL REVIEW at https://allthingsjaneausten.info/jane-austens-genius-guide-to-life/
Thank you, Netgalley and the author/publisher, for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own.
Wow, that was a nice take on the Jane Austen's books! First off, let me start with a disclaimer! I am not one of the Jane Austen fans. In fact, I had to switch from the ebook to the audiobook to even finish Pride and Prejudice. It is not that I don't like Jane Austen. I just find her writing very hard to read since it is the "old English." In addition, English is not my native language. So that is an additional obstacle. But anyway, I did read P&P and I did read Mansfield Park. I enjoyed the discussion we had in my book club group on Facebook. With that being said, here is my review of this particular Jane Austen-inspired book:
The author does an amazing job taking the characters in Jane Austen's books and using their character traits and actions to "teach a lesson" about Christian values. However, she does not come from a "high and mighty" perspective but rather illustrates how Jesus would react/act/respond. She includes virtues such as compassion, humility, prudence, empathy & selflessness, loving one another, not judging others but looking at our own shortcomings, etc. Three of my takeaways are: (i) that there are no perfect saints and sinners, we are/can be both; (2) if we know who we are in God, act accordingly, and stay true to ourselves, we can fend off the enemy's attacks and we don't act on a whim or buckle under the pressure of others. My favorite quote from the book is this: "We are given a temperament, but we have the opportunity to build our own characters." Saying "that is just who he/she is" or "that is just how I'm wired" shouldn't be an excuse for someone's actions. It is our choice to let the "beast" out and let our temperament take over or not.
Note for those who have not given their life to Jesus or think that this book is only for believers, this book is helpful for everyone regardless of their faith and where they are in their walk with Christ. The virtues and character traits the author describes based on Jane Austen's characters apply to everyone, Christians don't own the rights to them!
Also, if you have never read Jane Austen's book or, like me, only a few, this book is still for you (if you don't mind a few spoilers here or there). The author doesn't only include the development of the characters over time but also includes a short synopsis of the books at the end of the book.