The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler: Book CoverFinished 12-1-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2004

“It does bother me that Austen wouldn’t make up a good man who finds Charlotte worth having.  The Brontes would have told her story very differently.”

“Charlotte on Charlotte,” Allegra said. “I will always love the Brontes best.  But that’s just me – I like a book with storms in it.”

discussing Pride & Prejudice

Jocelyn is the heart of this small book group.  She has personally asked five women and one man to meet monthly to discuss the six Jane Austen novels.  Jocelyn, a 50 something spinster of sorts, Sylvia, her best friend who was recently left by her husband,  Allegra, Sylvia’s lesbian daughter, Bernadette  a talkative eccentric, Prudie a married French teacher, and Grigg, a man who loves science fiction, all experience their own Austen-like life changes in the course of their six month book club.

Each monthly meeting focused on one member of the group and what was going on in their lives in relation to the book they were reading.  I’m not sure I loved any of the members, but I did like Grigg and maybe Allegra.  I loved the individual stories, but the plot moving the book along and tying the chapters together was a little slow for me.

Beautifully written and less discussion of the Austen books than I expected.  Actually, I thought I would have to be more familiar with the Austen books before reading this (I’ve only read two), but I think this would be good for someone thinking about trying a Jane Austen novel for the first time.

I should say that if I had stopped when the story was over I would have given this book a 3.5, but Fowler included additional information that I loved.  My favorite part was the pages and pages of criticism and praise for Austen.  There is the response from family and friends to each of the books and there are the comments on Austen from literary greats such as Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, Willa Cather, and Virginia Woolf, to name a few.  There was also a recap and questions for each book.  It was these additional parts that I loved best.

This was from my personal library.

7 thoughts on “The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler

  1. Staci says:

    The movie is a favorite of mine…I’ve watched it too many times to count but I haven’t read the book….YET!!

    Planning to watch the movie tomorrow. Review on Friday.

  2. JoAnn says:

    There was less about Austen than I expected, too, but I still enjoyed the audiobook. I wonder if that extra material was at the end of the audio… don’t seem to remember it. It has been a few years though 😉

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