The Jane Austen Book Club Hardcover – 7 Oct 2004
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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 author of Sarah Canary, The Sweetheart Season, Black Glass: Short Fictions, and Sister Noon. She lives in the US.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is not easy to follow and takes a while to get going. It seemed disjointed and bitty. I am still not sure how the characters tied in with the Jane Austen reviews at the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jan
Hard to review the book as I haven't read it but bought it for a Jane Austen fan. Thought it was an unusual idea relating to Jane Austen books.Published 6 months ago by Kathryn Morris
As the blurb suggests the book follows the six characters as they meet at the book club to discuss the book of the month; Jocelyn, Sylvia, Bernadette, Allegra, Prudie and Grigg. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Lizzy from My Little Book Blog
but when I do - it's because the book is utter rubbish. I would not have bothered finishing it if it wasn't for the book club. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Daria
I know the cover of a book shouldn't matter (as it's all about the content), but the cover was completely different from the image of the product.Published 11 months ago by Ms. A. S. Nielson
An excellent book, in the vein of Barbara Pym if not Jane Austen, with more humour than comedy but lovely characters and a really keen sense of observation. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Bernard G.
I did not enjoy this book as much as "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" although goodness knows, I LOVE Austen (who doesn't? Read morePublished 12 months ago by V. G. Harwood