The Jane Austen Book Club

Title: The Jane Austen Book Club
Author: Karen joy Fowler
Pub Date: May 2005
Pages: 288
Genre: Fiction, Realistic

Brief Summary

Six Individuals. Six Months. Six Jane Austen books.

Jane Austen brings all walks of life together, and The Jane Austen Book Club illustrates just that. While exploring the characters and plots in all six of Ms. Austen's books, we get to explore the characters within the book club. (I suppose this book is a bit meta, huh?)

Jocelyn - the ring leader of the book club, independent and proud, but a romantic at heart or she wouldn't enjoy matchmaking like she does.

Bernadette - the eldest, logging in at 67 years. She might ramble a bit but the stories she could tell if you listened!

Sylvie - Jocelyn's bestie from eleven who might not be enjoying the Austen of romance since she's having marital difficulties.

Allegra - Sylvie's daughter, an adrenaline junkie whose risk-taking adventures tends to get her new girlfriends.

Prudie - high school French teacher, who sometimes goes overboard and speaks French regardless of the group finding that frustrating. Her life looks perfect, too bad she's struggling with Momma issues.

Grigg - the only male in the group. Poor sucker already has that strike against him. But then he admits to never having read an Austen novel.

My Thoughts.
As many followers know, I read my first Jane Austen book, Pride and Prejudice, this year. Instantly, I understood the attraction. Obviously it made sense then to sign up for the Austen challenge. I picked up the Jane Austen Book Club because I didn't know which Austen book to choose next. I figured this would illuminate the intricacies of each novel through the eyes of the book readers. The concept seemed awfully cool to me. Then, as an added bonus, I expected to be pulled into each of the book members world. As I said earlier, pretty meta.

Unfortunately, the book didn't really live up to my expectations.

The Good

  • I liked the concept of each character getting a chapter that aligned with an Austen book as well as their own story, who they were and how that defines them presently.

  • I really liked Jocelyn's character. Maybe not so much her present interaction with the members, but definitely her story.

  • Oh, and Prudie's is perhaps the most interesting. Even though her husband absolutely adores her, there is a part of herself that she can't let go of because of her mother's inconsistencies. Prudie's story was definitely the most thorough.

  • It was a pretty quick read.
The Bad
  • Ummm, I'm not quite sure how to politely say this, but although I thought the concept was pretty cool, the writing oftentimes felt rather detached. I wanted the characters to be more three-dimensional than they were. For example,

  • Grigg's story? Please. So he was the only boy in a house filled with overbearing sisters. I didn't really feel that type of relationship even when interacting with the his sisters.

  • Show not tell. Unfortunately, overall, I didn't feel like the author really did that. We were told about each character rather matter of factly. LIke Grigg and his sisters. I never felt that sort of attachment.

  • In fact, I was hardly attached to any of the characters.

  • And, finally, reading the Jane Austen Book Club did no assist me whatsoever in deciding upon my next Austen book. I read the author's assistance pages that briefed the ignorant reader, like myself, on each novel, but still found the character's dialogue over the stories confusing.
Yay, Nay, Eh? I'm going with Eh on this one. I feel that it might be more enjoyable if I had read more than one Austen book ? In the very least, I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt and not completely oust it.

Your thoughts? Have you read it and reviewed it?

And just for the fun of it:


  1. I read this a couple of years ago when I was a member of a book club and it didn't enthrall me either.

  2. See, I went into this book expecting it would be bad and I really loved it. At that point, I'd read Persuasion and watched both P&P and S&S the movies. I loved the Fowler was able to interweave the Austen stories into the lives of these people with far more subtlety than I could ever have done. I admired it from a writing point of view. I actually thought she did a lot of showing and not a lot of telling, so I suppose it just depends on who's looking at it. I haven't read it since the first time (May last year, I do have a review somewhere), but decided I would read it after I'd finished all the Austen novels. I've now read 5 of 6, and am part of a Jane Austen book club myself. We'll probably be reading Northanger Abbey (the only one I havne't read) in January or so, and after that I think we're actually going to read this book, which sounds great to me. I'm looking forward to all the things I didn't pick up on the first time. I think having read the JA canon will enhance my enjoyment.

  3. Thanks for commenting on my blog!

    I read this a while back that thought it was just ok. But guess what? Crazy though it sounds, the movie of this is better than the book! I reviewed the movie a while back and most of my commentors agreed with me. You should definitely try watching it at some point!

  4. I'm with you. I felt the writing was really detached and I didn't care much about the characters.

    Also, agree with Heather. Found the movie to be a more enjoyable experience.

  5. I feel the same way you do about this book. There wasn't a lot about Jane Austen and her books like I had been expecting, other than some parallels with the characters. It seems like Jane Austen was in the title just to sell some books.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  6. Vivienne - That's disappointing isn't? I'd rather like to have read a book amongst fellow book clubbers about a book club. Too bad it didn't fulfill its potential.

    Amanda - You must read this after your club has read all of the Austin books and let me know if you feel any different. Also, I'm totally jealous that you have a JA Book Club going on!

    Heather - I've heard that about the movie. I plan on watching it soon. :))

    Michelle - Isn't it frustrating when characters are just blah?

    Anna - Yup. Name dropping in literature. How true.


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