The Jane Austen Book Club
About the Book
Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her finely sighted eye for the frailties of human behavior and her finely tuned ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, 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.
As someone who loved the movie adaptation of The Jane Austen Book Club, I must confess I found the book it was based on to be a disappointment.
The characters are interesting and relatable, and some witty exchanges are memorable, but the good points end there. The plot seems to be more of an after-thought. Most of what happens occurs in flashbacks or asides, which would be fine if the club's meetings and discussions were more significant. Usually these boiled down to complaining about the heat and making obvious points about Austen's books.
My main problem, however, was with the writing style. It read like those terribly "literary" short stories I was forced to read in class. "Literary" pieces seems too puffed up with self-importance and theory and making it "real." If you like those kinds of books, you may enjoy this one.
There was also a confusing use of the first-person narrative, saying "we sat on the porch" when every character in the group is referred to by name. My guess is it's supposed to make the reader feel included in the book club, but more often than not it took me out of the story -- the completely opposite effect.
Compared to the movie, it was plodding and shallow. The movie was faithful enough (but presenting the same information better) that I saw any new scenes or details as deleted background to what I already loved.
I love the premise of readers' lives coinciding with Austen's books, but if you have a choice: watch the movie.