Persuasion at Fenimore High

The spinster heroine of Jane Austen’s Persuasion becomes a college counselor for status-conscious high school students in an affluent, ambitious suburb in Paula Marantz Cohen’s Jane Austen in Scarsdale. Diane Ravitch recommends the book in Education Next.

How better to investigate and satirize contemporary mores than through the eyes of a high-school guidance counselor who is juggling the demands of status-hungry parents and their anxious children?

. . . Anyone who has any awareness of the pressure on high-school students to get into Ivy League colleges will enjoy this novel. I laughed out loud frequently as I read her fictional description of life in the guidance office at Fenimore High.

In Austen’s day, getting children into a good marriage was the goal of ambitious parents. Now it’s college. But the college counselor in the book does have a rejected beau — a formerly low-status guy who’s risen in the world — who shows up in town.

About Joanne