In Jane Austen In Scarsdale, Paula Marantz Cohen closely examines and wryly parodies the college admissions process and all the personnel associated with that painstaking American right of passage in an upscale American suburb. She offers a tongue-incheek perspective of the requisites necessary for entry into the elite world of the Ivy League universities, including the tutors hired to boost GPAs and the selection of volunteer and after-school activities for their prospective value on college applications. The “packaging” of students for admission into colleges in all its intricacies is portrayed with uncanny wit.
Cohen offers us an in-depth examination of life in one of the most competitive communities in America while she chronicles contemporary life as seen through the eyes of the applicants to college, their neurotic over involved parents and the academics and highly specialized tutors brought in to maximize the students’ chances of admission into their dream schools. With humor and not just a tinge of cynicism, Cohen describes the trials and tribulations that must be endured by high school students in an upscale suburban neighborhood.
Many residents of communities similar to Scarsdale will undoubtedly recognize themselves in this novel, based loosely on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Cohen has cleverly used Jane Austen’s satire and plot and turned it around to describe the dog-eat-dog world of the college application predicament.