Debra White Smith File:
Reviewed by Sheryl Root
What Jane Austen Taught Me About Love and Romance by
Debra White Smith
"Debra White Smith has created a multi-faceted book that should appeal not only to lovers of Austen's fiction, but anyone looking for a unique study of First Corinthians 13."
Debra White Smith came by her love for Jane Austen’s writing slowly. As she admits in her latest book, What Jane Austen Taught Me about Love & Romance, her first reaction to reading Pride & Prejudice as an undergraduate was less than impressed. However, by the time she attended graduate school her “views had changed. I’d fallen in love with Austen’s wittiness, her characters, and the dynamics of the plots.” So much so that, not only did Debra write her master’s thesis on Austen, she also authored a contemporary fiction series based on Austen’s novels.
Now, with chapters such as “Fanny Price and the Queen of Mean” and “Henry Crawford and the Slime Sisters,” Debra has written an irresistibly humorous and candid study of the love chapter, First Corinthians 13, in What Jane Austen Taught Me about Love & Romance.
Forgiveness and keeping no record of wrongs is the focus of the chapter titled “Henry Tilney and the Sphinx.” Debra gives Henry, of Austen’s Northanger Abbey, the “Most Forgiving Hero Award.” It’s earned by his refusal to retaliate when Catherine, the young and impressionable heroine, allows her love of gothic novels to inflame her imagination—making her sure Henry’s father is responsible for killing his wife. When Henry pointedly refutes her beliefs, Catherine is worried she has ruined their relationship forever. However, Henry does not harbor unforgiveness toward her. Debra uses Henry and Catherine’s relationship to illustrate the fact that First Corinthians love never says we won’t remember wrongs—as it is unlikely Henry will forget Catherine thought his father capable of murder—but rather that we are not to keep a record of wrongs, using them against each other.
Along with Austen’s characters, Debra uses hilarious examples from her own family’s life to illustrate her points, which adds a refreshing transparency and honesty to this study.
Debra White Smith has created a multi-faceted book that should appeal not only to lovers of Austen’s fiction, but anyone looking for a unique study of First Corinthians 13. I also think, with the analysis of Austen’s characters, that this is a great book for writers who are looking to deepen their characterization skills.
My only disappointment, if you could call it that, is with the book’s cover. I think it will limit those who might pick it up to primarily female readers, which is a shame, as I definitely consider this a book for both genders. Each of us, whether male or female, have relationships in our lives—friendships, marriage, family—and can learn from the truths revealed within these pages. What Jane Austen Taught Me about Love & Romance is a wonderful study of true, Christ-like love.
Sheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.