Books are therapy.
Along with pushing us out of our world into the lives and stories of others – and some contend, forming some of our closest connections to the human experience through our appropriation of others’ stories – books also console and help heal us.
I found this to be true in 2009. I was severely injured, in tremendous pain, and housebound for several months at the beginning of that year. There wasn’t much I could do besides watch TV and read. And television was not appealing at that time. But, with regards to reading, I didn’t have the energy or courage to “meet new friends.” Instead I needed somewhere comfortable to go, to sit quietly and to heal. I turned to Jane Austen. That year, I probably read over seventy novels, but the first six were Austen’s completed novels. Her stories provided a sanctuary for me and I will be forever grateful.
In my case, her novels also launched a career. It was during this recovery I began Dear Mr. Knightley – the story of a young woman in so much pain she hid behind the personas of her favorite characters. That book sold to HarperCollins in 2012 and I’m now in edits for my sixth novel, The Printed Letter Bookshop. It’s been an extraordinary ride – and not one I ever expected, but one for which I am continually grateful.
Whether you find escape, peace, solace, companionship, great literature or a career – Jane Austen is good medicine.
What have Austen’s novels meant to you?