The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club

Book - 2007
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Penguin Putnam
In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin,
unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

Baker & Taylor
As six Californians get together to form a book club to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, their lives are turned upside down by troubled marriages, illicit affairs, changing relationships, and love.

Publisher: New York : Putnam, [2007]
Copyright Date: ©2004
ISBN: 9780452289000
Call Number: FIC FOW
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 21 cm


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Feb 06, 2020

Judging by the name and synopsis, I understood 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘑𝘢𝘯𝘦 𝘈𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘊𝘭𝘶𝘣 to be a combination of literary analysis and fiction. Six club members— five women and a man— meet once every month to discuss one of Austen’s works. Each person has a trauma, worry, or conflict that subsequently guides their mindset as events unfold alongside the novels themselves. ⁣

My biggest problem with this book is its tiny amount of analysis. I was fascinated by each book club member’s individual back story but failed to see any significant connection until the much later, after which I flipped back and finally recognized the alignment. You can say that the whole work is a creative analysis, but it really is too indirect. ⁣

I did enjoy the way each character is aligned to a/the protagonist of a major work — taking them from the original work, putting them in a modern setting and making them read their own stories in each other’s company is a super cool concept. That said, although the concept is amazing, Fowler’s writing and execution just do not do it justice. ⁣

A surprise I did pick up from the book is the theory that these works each corresponds with a famous fairytale. The popular comparisons are 𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘫𝘶𝘥𝘪𝘤𝘦 vs. 𝘉𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘵 and 𝘔𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘭𝘥 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘬 vs. 𝘊𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘢, which is somewhat paradoxical since Austen’s supposed to be all realistic and descriptive while fairytales are fairytales. ⁣

But it could be because Austen and the Brothers Grimmes were writing at the same time and responding to similar social phenomena, or it could be that the cores of these stories somehow appeal to the human condition. Or it could be both, or neither... I don’t know. ⁣

For more book reviews, visit me on instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

Dec 19, 2018

Generally - whatever you encounter, first, in the world of stories is the version that you end up liking more. Such is the case here. I really enjoyed the movie and found it so pleasant to watch and make the connections with the Jane Austen novels. This book is good and the way the author presents each character for each month is really intriguing and works for the general plot of the book. I just, as a person who came in knowing the movie first, could not enjoy it to it's fullest.

Aug 07, 2016

I enjoyed her witty style of writing, and was sorry when the book ended. I definitely recommend it even for non-Jane Austen fans. Four stars!

Jan 07, 2016

Boring! Perhaps if I'd read ALL of Jane Austen's novels it would have helped to decipher what each book club member was going on about. I wouldn't recommend it.

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 12, 2015

Fowler has fun with this book which has the structure of book club meetings between 5 Californian ladies all very familiar with Austen’s work and one man, Grigg, who still has a lot to learn. There is enough discussion and insight into the novels to keep any Austen fan happy and the added interest of each character bringing their own bias to their interpretation of the characters and plots gives an extra dimension to the readers’ enjoyment. The modern day equivalents of Austen’s themes, even the requisite formal dance, are interwoven with the book club meetings and provide a lively counterpoint to the literary appreciation of nineteenth century society.

skd3 Aug 05, 2011

Book Club

Jul 27, 2010

One comment: Watch the movie, it's much better.

But that being said, the book is still awesome, but this is one case where the movie demonstrates more of the relationships between the characters than the book does. Especially Prudie.

Dec 04, 2009

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I don't mind Jane Austen, but I'm not a "Jane-ite" by any stretch of the imagination. This book changes person (even includes first person plural on a couple of occasions), and provides the viewpoints of all the book club members as they spend the better part of a year reading Austen's canon together. That said, the book is less about Austen and more about the five(?) women and one man, their pasts and presents. It's very funny in some parts and rather devastating in others. I've not seen the film based on this, but I doubt it measures up.

Oct 18, 2009

One of the few times where I enjoyed the movie more than the book.

May 27, 2005

As a Jane Austen fan, I could not resist this book even if I tried. Each member of the club gets one chapter and one time to host the club at their house as they read through each of Austen?s books. Here a long time reader of Austen can find themselves listening to conversations about her books along with other readers who are just as fanatical. Bits of the members lives are revealed piece by tantalizing piece until the whole portrait is shown, much like a certain author! An absolute must read!


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