This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life by Haley Stewart (Book Review)

Description of Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life

Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life is written by 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.

Who is Haley Stewart?

Haley Stewart is a Catholic author, podcaster, speaker, and fellow of the Word on Fire Institute.

Haley 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.

Review of Jane Austen’s Genius Guide to Life by Haley Stewart

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.

Sharing is Caring

Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life