So I am a Jane Austen fan! Well, not a super fan and not one who read her books many times over, but a fan in the sense that I love classic fiction, and I have certainly read almost all her novels (the almost is more due to probable lack of memory than actual fact). And I only read Pride and Prejudice in recent years. But getting to the point, being a fan of Austen was the main reason I picked up today’s featured book – The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. Oh, and also that I love books featured in sleepy England towns, set in historical times, feature authors and/or books, and remind me of other books I have loved!
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The Book Review
The Jane Austen Society
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.
The Jane Austen Society is like a gentle salute to the author and to her books, done with charm and warmth; it reminds us of why we still enjoy reading Jane Austen even today. While it took me a while to get into it due to a slow start, I did finish it. The parts that I loved, charmed and delighted me; while the parts that I didn’t, well, they kind of bored me. But overall, enjoyable; and for those who understand the Austen references, even more so!
What I loved about it
The motley crew of unique characters, each one with their own struggles, and each one using their love of Austen to get through life and to connect with each other! While I loved some characters more than the others, and did not care for a few at all, overall it was endearing to see how they all came together to preserve something they believed in.
All the references to quotes and scenes from Austen’s books, and the books themselves! And the fact that I could draw parallels between the characters in this book with Austen’s characters was a delight!
I also loved how the characters revere and discuss Austen and her books; for them, the books are anchors and life-lines, while the characters from their beloved author’s books are as real to them as each other. Reading their conversations felt like I was having a wonderful bookish discussion with friends!
While the book has its own story line, Jenner charmingly uses Austen and her books throughout to connect the characters and move the story forward. The plot is like a multi-patterned quilt of family and friendships, of loss and starting again, of love and heartbreak, all sewed together with Austenesque threads.
Of course the setting of a quaint village never fails to ensnare me into a book! And all the places mentioned in the book are real; which meant I learned a lot without realizing it, and I do love when that happens.
Reading this made me want to read Austen all over again; and to visit the places mentioned in the book. And of course, the cover is charming too!
What could have been better
It started off really slow, and you might wonder if there is really a society at all in the book, but patience serves the reader in this book. It also dragged in other places and I initially skipped those parts. But when I found myself turning back pages because I realized I must have missed something, I decided to stick with it through the rest of the book (and am glad I did)
Trigger warnings: References to the Hollywood casting couch (one in more detail than needed for this book maybe?), as well as a slightly graphic scene of childbirth loss. Also, considering this was set right after WW II, many of the characters also have suffered some loss due to the war.
Do you ever stop and think how lucky we are, the way we get to live here every day, like Jane Austen did?
… inside the pages of each and every book was a whole other world.
To him the church was the perfect size: small enough to always feel intimate, but just big enough to always seems full.
Of being both one step ahead of the characters and one step behind Austen on every single reading.
If a village could be asleep, Chawton was it.
Recommend for those who are Jane Austen or historical fiction fans (but also for those who enjoy reading books about books and authors; or books set in sleepy quaint villages)!
Get It Here
Disclaimer: Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the digital copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Would You Rather
Would you rather live in your favorite fictional world for a day or be able to or be able to visit said fictional world whenever you want but only as an observer?
I would love to visit whenever I want, I guess…??!!
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any books that are about books or popular authors/characters from other books? Do let me know…
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