A woman finds solace in Jane Austen following the death of her father and the birth of her child Austen Years is a deeply felt and sensitive examination of a writer’s relationship to reading, and to her own family, winding together memoir, criticism, and biographical and historical material about Austen herself.
Cohen has taken her fascination with – and personal dependence on – one great author and transmutes it into something any reader in the world will find downright marvelous ... The reading focus here, of course, is Austen, and even the most dedicated Janeites will find in these pages plenty of fascinating insights into their author. The book is at once an impressive analysis of Austen’s fiction and a first-rate biography of the author herself ... a shining account of how indispensable books can be.
... a complicated hybrid of a book that mixes Cohen’s singular insight into Austen as a writer with Cohen’s personal life ... The book’s ten chapters offer an artful mix of Cohen’s life, Austen’s life, the lives of Austen’s characters, and the insights of writers and critics who, in the two centuries since Austen’s books appeared, have uncovered the riches of her novels ... As a memoir, Austen Years has a guarded feel that can hold a reader at arm’s length. No doubt, it’s challenging to give characters enough heft to settle them into the minds of strangers without violating their privacy. Along these lines, Cohen has made some quirky choices, referring to her children by their initials, for example. Read the dedication and you can give them names ... Set aside the reserved tone of the memoir. Cohen’s Austen Years offers us a moving and intelligent guide to reading Austen in our days of death.
Cohen’s incisive new book explores her immersion into Austen’s work during a fraught period in her personal life. Ultimately a narrative about grief, loss and resurfacing, it also provides a deep dive into some of Austen’s most penetrating writing ... As a memoir, Austen Years is uncompromising and engaging, and as literary criticism, it is assured and perceptive ... an absorbing pleasure that will stimulate and augment the reading of Austen for fans old and new.