Rachel Cohen

Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels

Austen Years book cover

Austen Years by Rachel Cohen. Cover design Na Kim.

Praise for Austen Years

"Rachel Cohen’s Austen Years is a work of compassionate and meditative alchemy. It explores the patterns that hold together life, art, love and loss; the spaces between memory and memorialisation, between literary creation and lived experience, between inspiration and revelation, reading and re-reading. Like the implacable action of tidal waters upon the shore, it returns to, shapes, and quietly unearths hidden treasures from what we thought was familiar ground. It’s an absolutely fascinating book: I will never read Austen the same way again." —Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

"I’m excited to read anything Rachel Cohen writes, inspired by the delicate precision of her thought and the grace of her expression. In Austen Years, the marriage of Rachel’s rare attentiveness with Jane Austen's beloved novels makes for an exhilarating and beautiful book." --Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl

“In the achingly precise Austen Years, the refusal to be finished reading the texts that mean most to us converges with the desire to bring a halt to time’s passage in the mourning of the loss of a parent, or the daily transformations of being one. The delicacy and patience of Rachel Cohen’s approach match that of her subject.” –Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective

"I read Austen Years with real pleasure and fascination over several evenings — it’s a truly exceptional piece of work, a tender and moving meditation on fiction and family memory, on Austen and on Cohen’s beloved father, all so surprisingly combined and acutely observed. It’s completely captivating."—Richard Holmes, author of This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer

"In her biographies, Rachel Cohen displays one of the most widely ranging minds I've ever encountered in a book. Stunningly, in Austen Years, she reveals that during a lengthy period of personal transitions, she turned exclusively to a single author, Jane Austen, immersing herself intensely. Her memoir is an astonishingly fresh reading of Austen's novels, a deeply felt reexamination of their great themes (love, inheritance, how to be with others in the world), and a lyrical ode to the pleasures and rewards of paying close attention. It will sit next to Pride and Prejudice on my shelf." --Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life