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.