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The Jane Austen Book Club Paperback – 18 Jan 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd., London; Re-issue edition (18 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965508544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141020266
  • ASIN: 0141020261
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'If I could eat this novel, I would' -- Alice Sebold

‘I laughed out loud four or five times in the course of the introduction alone’ -- Sunday Telegraph

‘Stylish, homely and deeply comforting’ -- The Times

‘This wonderful novel shows how some books enter our bloodstream’ -- Independent

‘We defy you not to fall head over heels for this lovely novel’ -- Mail on Sunday

About the Author

Karen Joy Fowler is the Man Booker shortlisted, bestselling author of Sister Noon (a PEN/Faulkner prize finalist), Sarah Canary, The Sweetheart Season, The Jane Austen Book Club, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and the story collection Black Glass. She is a a PEN/Faulkner Prize finalist and lives in Davis and Santa Cruz, California.

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First Sentence
We sat in a circle on Jocelyn's screened porch at dusk, drinking cold sun tea, surrounded by the smell of her twelve acres of fresh-mowed California grass. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book deserves five stars for its sincere attempt to honor Jane Austen's writing. At the same time, it deserves three stars for the effectiveness of its story and style.
The book has an interesting premise: "Each of us has a private Austen." The premise is explored by having five women and one man meet for a few occasions to discuss their favorite Austen novels. By choosing the novels they choose and what they have to say about them, the characters unintentionally reveal lots about themselves. At the same time, their private lives and loves move in mysterious ways to become harmonious. It's all very Austenish, if it's not very good Austen.
Joycelyn is the perpetual matchmaker, who never finds a match for herself. She thought of starting the Austen book club and recruited its members. Bernadette is an older woman who has moved past pretension and appreciates the humor in life. Grigg is a bachelor whose tastes usually run to science fiction and who has a little trouble fitting in with the women. Sylvia is Joycelyn's oldest friend, and her marriage has just broken up . . . despite Jocelyn having fixed Sylvia up with her husband, Daniel, who was Joycelyn's boy friend originally. Daniel has now flown to a new love. Allegra is the most spirited member of the group, and she's deep into her lesbian love life although not always clear about what's going on there. Allegra is Sylvia's daughter. Prudie is the most serious Austen student, and appreciates all aspects of her writing. Prudie is a high school French teacher who likes to share phrases a little too much and is the only person with an on-going marriage.
The book alternates between relating snatches of the book club meetings with looking into the personal relationships of the members.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pam on 30 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
This was the first book that did not meet with our book club's approval. We have read and enjoyed a wide variety of books over the years - but this was the first one that only one of us actually read to the end, and unanimously got the 'thumbs down'. The rest of us just abandoned it after failing to be able to get to grips with its content. It just did not seem to have a point to it, despite the idea being potentially good. The characters failed to interest us, it was very 'bitty', didn't flow, and it was questionable what it had to do with Jane Austen's books. We all tried several times, but in the end felt we just couldn't be bothered making the effort.I find it hard to believe that we could all be so wrong.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By T. Bently VINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
At the beginning of this novel Fowler declares, "Each of us has a private Austen," and it's hard to disagree. Unfortunately, for many people Austen is quaint and reassuring, qualities which "The Jane Austen Book Club" is most definitely not.
Rather, like my own private Austen, it is cynical, intelligent and more than a little barbed as Fowler introduces us to the six members of the Central Valley/River City all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club: Jocelyn, Sylvia, Bernadette, Allegra, Prudie and Grigg.
There were a few moments at the beginning when I felt a little uneasy. I wasn't prepared for the sex scenes (this is supposed to be Jane Austen territory after all) but Fowler has an eye for detail and I pressed on. Luckily I soon started to warm to the quintet of club members (particularly Grigg) and by the end I felt I wanted to hug them all. They emerge fully-rounded and the author seems equally adept at describing the lives of middle-aged Sylvia and Jocelyn as she does the dynamics of teenage friendships amongst Prudie's school students. She even makes the most prosaic things come alive. I loved the descriptions of summer evenings on Valley verandas as characters munch slices of Kentucky bourbon cake, creme de menthe squares and almond crescent cookies.
Austen herself even makes an appearance of a kind towards the end to nudge the plot along, in the form of a doctored black magic 8-ball created by the artistic Allegra. As the novel closes things become ever more Austen-like as the group hastens towards a happy conclusion.
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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
Having read the reviews on this book and had the final stamp of approval (for some O.K!!!!) heaped on it from Richard & Judie (well it counts for something with some people!) How could I not at least try this book?
I did not enjoy the characters, actually if truth be known they had nothing to make me care about them, Reading this I kept feeling that any momnet it was going to get interesting, sadly that did not happen and I arrived at the end wondering what had been the point, it did not even make me want to revisit any Austen novels but it did make me wonder how she would have felt having such a poorly written book entertwined with some of hers.... I think disappointed would probably cover it.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
Declaring that "each of us has a private Austen," author Karen Joy Fowler introduces the six members of the Central Valley/River City All-Jane-Austen-All-the-Time Book Club. Each of the members is responsible for leading the discussion of one of Austen's six novels when the club meets each month. Fowler develops this into a clever conceit, using each of the six club members to illustrate characteristics of Jane Austen herself, and at the same time, developing parallels between the plots of the Austen's novels and the book club members' personal lives. For readers unfamiliar with all of Austen's novels, Fowler includes brief but helpful plot summaries at the end of the book so that the innumerable parallels are clear.
Jocelyn, the founder, is single like Austen and much like Emma in personality, a woman who enjoys being in control and who has done some match-making. Allegra, a determined feminist with a female lover, is concerned with the financial implications of marriage in general and specifically in Sense and Sensibility. Prudie, a French teacher and former dancer, resembles Fanny Price in Mansfield Park when a student makes suggestive passes at her a la Henry Crawford. Grigg, the only man in the group, is a mystery to the members, but as the novel unfolds, we see his life paralleling The Mysteries of Udolpho (also summarized), on which Northanger Abbey was modeled. The forgetful Bernadette is naturally funny, a woman who enjoys the humor and happy endings of Pride and Prejudice. And Sylvia, whose husband has just left her after thirty years, is a genealogist whose life, as it unfolds here, contains parallels to Persuasion.
The novel is genuinely funny, though some parallels with Austen are more carefully developed than others.
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