A wonderful memoir of how reading shaped her life, Ruth Wilson describes her life through 9 decades, of both the highs and lows and how reading helped her discover her voice and her truest self. After leaving her husband of 50 years in her 70s, Wilson returns to the classics, notably Jane Austen’s novels, to remind herself what she wants out of life and it led her to live on her own again, pursuing further education and completing her PHD at 88, and publishing this memoir at 90.
Synopsis: An empowering memoir of a life reclaimed through reading
Ruth Wilson first encountered Pride and Prejudice in the 1940s. She has returned many time to Jane Austen’s novels and heroines during a long life in which reading has been both a love and a priority. After her sixtieth birthday she took the radical decision to retreat from her conventional married life and live alone while confronting perplexing feelings of loss, loneliness, regret and unhappiness. In a small rural cottage, painted the colour of yellow sunshine, Ruth embarked on a re-reading of Jane Austen’s six major novels. As she read between the lines of both the novels and her own life she felt herself reclaiming her voice and her sense of self.
An uplifting memoir of love, self-acceptance and the curative power of reading, The Jane Austen Remedy raises big questions about truth and memory, personal loyalty and betrayal, prudence and risk, reason and passion. It is an inspirational account of recovery and self-discovery. Ruth travels through nine decades of living, loving and learning, unravelling memories of relationships and lived experiences, looking for small truths that help explain the arc of a life that has been both ordinary and extraordinary.
This story spanning nearly a century of Wilson’s life is truly incredible, with the same wicked twists and turns fate has in store, but Wilson always returns to books as guidance, for comfort and stability when the times get tough. It’s wonderful to read about the impact certain authors have had on history in a large scale and even in the smallest, individual scale, how those authors have shaped the lives of their readers, even so many years post-mortem.
I feel I gravitate towards books that describe the influence novels and a life-long love of reading can have on people. I know I wouldn’t be the same without that same love encouraged in me when I was very young through family members reading to me until their mouths were dry. This memoir is a love letter to Jane Austen and the impact she has had with her iconic leading ladies who have served as inspiration for many generations of girls, women and other female main characters of novels in the past 200 years.
I’m so grateful to be given a chance to take part in this blog blast with Allison & Busby and for Libby Haddock for organising a final copy to be sent to me.