Book review: Jane Austen: The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

English teachers at schools everywhere ought to plunge into this thoroughly impressive and convincing re-reading of Jane Austen’s works — but it will throw all their lesson plans into disarray.

Austen expert Helena Kelly takes the author’s catalogue of works, much adapted, much loved, and turns them upside down, shaking out the petticoats and love stories to find a dark, politically motivated underbelly.

Beneath the drawing room chatter and matchmaking, Kelly points us toward Austen’s carefully woven-in ideas and opinions on, among others, the deadliness of marriage and motherhood, corruption in the church, and the debilitating poverty caused by enclosure of common lands. At times you feel berated for having ever fallen for the romantic plotlines, the films, the blossoming love stories and the sillier characters.

Whether you agree with her or not you’ll definitely see Austen’s works differently from now on.

Jane Austen: The Secret Radical

Book review: Jane Austen: The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

Helena Kelly

con Books, €23.85; ebook, €13.60


Lifestyle

The ribbed fabric is having a fashion moment, says Katie Wright.Get on board with cord: 5 of the best pinafore dresses and how to style them

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman whose future mother-in-law isn’t happy with her decision not to have kids.Ask a counsellor: ‘Why can’t my fiancé’s mother accept that I don’t want children?’

Vincent Thurkettle, author of The Wood Fire Handbook, talks to Luke Rix-Standing about one of our best-loved simple pleasures – the log fire.Burning love: Why are roaring wood fires so endlessly appealing?

Students have nothing to be anxious about with their CAO 2020, just follow this easy video guide with Trish McGrath, Principal of Hewitt CollegeTen tips to completing CAO 2020 applications online, plus a short video guide for students

More From The Irish Examiner