This article comes from JoJo Moyes and The Telegraph. To read the complete article and several complementary ones, please visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/7535768/The-healing-power-of-Jane-Austen.html
I can’t have been the only one taken aback to hear that the apparently cheerful and pragmatic Emma Thompson suffered severe depression after the break-up of her first marriage, and to such a debilitating extent that, in her own words, she “should have sought professional help”.
But her choice of self-medication drew a huge nod of recognition, in this house at least. For Thompson was “saved” not by Prozac, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but by immersing herself in Sense and Sensibility, the Jane Austen novel she turned into an Oscar-winning screenplay. “I used to crawl from the bedroom to the computer and just sit and write, and then I was all right, because I was not present,” the actress and screenwriter said. “Sense and Sensibility really saved me from going under, I think, in a very nasty way.”
Obviously meeting the very handsome Greg Wise, starring opposite him in said film, and then marrying him might have provided a little balm to the soul too, but as anyone who loves books knows, fiction – and Austen especially – is a great remedy for the steeper humps of the human condition. In fact, so effective is Austen’s facility for helping people overcome adversity that she has spawned a sub-genre: books like The Jane Austen Book Club – in which characters improve their lives and overcome heartbreak through reading … um …Austen.