2013: #17 – The Jane Austen Book Club (Karen Joy Fowler)

Title: The Jane Austen Book Club
Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Release Date: April 26, 2005
Publisher: Plume
Source: personal copy (PaperbackSwap)

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.

My thoughts:

I guess this is one of those books that you should only read if you’ve also read a lot of Austen, because I just didn’t get it at all. And it definitely wasn’t witty.

The only character that was actually interesting was Grigg, the sole man in the group.  Compared to him, the rest of them seemed like unhappy, bitter old ladies, even though two of them are not old at all. Most of the time, it seemed like they didn’t even like each other all that much, and it made me wonder why they even had a book club at all. Especially a book club with such a limited scope. They don’t even continue once they’re finished the Austen books! What kind of book club is that? Plus, their conversations about the books weren’t even particularly interesting.

We won’t even speak of the horridly annoying use of first person (us, we) in the narration.

Maybe I was missing some sort of subtle connection in each chapter that related to the Austen book they were discussing, but based on some other reviews I’ve seen, I don’t think I was. I have heard that the movie is actually good, so this may be one of the rare instances of the movie being better than the book.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “A fun, quick read that is best read after having devoured all of the Austen novels.”The Bennet Sisters
  • “Overall, while the book has many merits (i.e. The Jane Austen Magic 8 Ball, the parallels between Grigg and Catherine Moreland, and the narrator’s sharp wit), I think this is one of those situations where the movie adaption is more satisfying and successful than the novel.Austenesque Reviews

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