Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BOOK: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Austen Mini Challenge

I'm not the hugest Jane Austen fan, but I have enjoyed my little forays into her world. I've read two books - Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Then I watched part of the PBS Austen marathon, including the two novels I read, plus Mansfield Park. And I love Bridget Jones' Diary, which is simply P&P retold, including Colin Firth and Mr Darcy.

Fan or not, this book was enjoyable. I would guess that for the diehards, this book would be fabulous, with all the references to the novels and the abject adoration of Jane evident within the book club. For the casual reader like myself who is a little in awe of the Austenites, and a little scared of them, there is some playful humor making fun of the Jane fans.

Each Austen book gets a meeting and a host, and a chapter. The six members each get a focus of a chapter and we get to see the interactions and events in their lives. There are five women and one man, who could be considered the perfect hero. Different stages of relationships, matchmaking, uneven matches, and lost loves. I'm sure I missed the exact parallels to the novels, but I got quite a few. I was, however, extremely confused by the first person point of view, because it wasn't any of the characters and yet it was all of them. I'm not sure why it wasn't just third person, because the narrator changed around but was present and gave her/his opinion and little comments, but it was impossible to figure out who it was.

There are also tons of quotes at the end regarding Jane, and synopsis of the novels, and questions the characters would have asked at their meeting. The end notes added to the Austen experience.

What a great book to read for the Austen Mini-Challenge, for someone who doesn't want to read another Austen book (they take me forever!) I might still look for Austenland by Shannon Hale but this challenge is completed for me now:

In 2008 I read The Jane Austen Book Club, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and watched Pride & Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park.


  1. I'd say you did a top-notch job with this challenge.

    I watched the movie JABC and enjoyed it. It did help to be familiar with the Austen stories. The only one I've read was Pride and Prejudice. The others were all movies.

  2. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews on this. I've been meaning to get around to reading this one. I enjoyed Austenland. That one is a hit or miss as well.

  3. I really didn't like this book all that much when I read it. I didn't know if that situation wasn't helped by the fact that I had never read Austen!

  4. booklogged - thanks! What a great challenge where you don't have to actually read Austen.

    maw books - the point of view was jarring, but hte characters were interesting, if Austen-like, and it was just a pleastant little book.

    marg - I think knowing Austen would help, because the chapters and characters were somewhat parallel to the Austen books. I've only read 2 Austens, but that's 1/3 of them.


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