26 Nov 2010



The book club was Jocelyn's idea, and she hand-picked the members. Jocelyn's best friend was Sylvia, whose husband of thirty-two years had just asked for a divorce. We felt she needed something to distract her. At sixty-seven, Bernadette was the oldest. She'd recently announced that she was, officially, letting herself go. "I just don't look in the mirror any more," she'd told us. "I wish I'd thought of it years ago."

The next person Jocelyn asked was Grigg, whom we none of us knew. We'd known Jocelyn long enough to wonder whom Grigg was intended for. Allegra was thirty, and really only invited because she was Sylvia's daughter. Prudie was the youngest of us, at twenty-eight. She taught French at the high school and was the only one of us currently married, unless you counted Sylvia, who soon wouldn't be. Our first meeting was at Jocelyn's house.

In California's Sacramento Valley, six people meet once a month to discuss Jane Austen's novels. They are ordinary people, neither happy nor unhappy, but all wounded in different ways, all mixed up about their lives and their relationships. Over the six months they meet marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and under the guiding eye of Jane Austen, some of them even fall in love.
..... from the inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (from the prologue): Each of us has a private Austen.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: Why bother to send teenagers to school at all? Their minds were so clogged with hormones they couldn't possibly learn a complex system like calculus or chemistry, much less the wild tangle of a foreign language.

I confess, I started out on a bad note with this one having somehow or other (don't ask me how) mistaken the author Jane Austen for the character Jane Eyre so was expecting a read in which the second featured to some extent or other.

That sorted, did I enjoy the book? Here I'm going to go typical teenager on you, shrug my shoulders and mutter "'spose so, it was ok."

Overall I was disappointed with this novel THOUGH I quite liked the layout of the book - there was a portion 'dedicated' to each of the book club members who got to tell their story as it were whilst discussing their favourite Austen novel be it Emma (Jocelyn's choice), Sense And Sensibility (Allegra's choice) OR Northanger Abbey (Grigg's choice). That said the character's stories in themselves were more or less instantly forgettable, I'm writing this a few days after having read the book and if it weren't for the numerous stickie notes covering the pages I would be hard-pushed to give you any particular details other than that one of the characters breeds dogs (which character and what type of dogs? I forget).

I even wish I could say that the use of quotes from Austen's books had inspired me to read some of her works though sadly this isn't the case. As for reading the book because of the title - I think anyone doing this will be hugely disappointed as the book REALLY isn't about Jane Austen but rather the six individuals who come together because they happen to enjoy her books.

The Jane Austen Book Club was ex-library stock purchased at a branch library.


Mary said...

I read it quite a long time ago but I think I was in the middle on this one. I also saw the movie but wasn't all that impressed with that either. Oh well.

Willa said...

I couldn't agree more! I read this and forgot about it again. It was like eating at McDonald's - I felt full for a second and then regretted wasting time and money on it when I could have been reading a better book. Too bad because the title has a lot of promise :-)

Melissa Gill said...

I saw the movie a couple years back. It was fine but not something I'd rent or buy to see again. I never read the book because as much as I love Jane Austen, I couldn't see having a book club that only read her books. That seemed too weird to me, but I can see the plot device the author was going for.

Small Review said...

Hopping by for the Friday Hop.

Wow, your review turns me off from reading this one but also really confirms all of my suspicions about the book (all about random people, not Jane Austen). I've been holding off on reading this one until I've read all of the Austen books mentioned (which I imagine are better than this one and so I don't want any spoilers). Now I'll probably only watch the movie.

Karen said...

I saw this movie on TV this year. I had no idea it was based on a book. It was cute enough but I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it or apparently read the book.

naida said...

sorry it dissapointed. I have this in my TBR.

Kelly said...

The layout does sound interesting, but not having read any Austen myself I'm not sure I would have been drawn to this in the first place.

Sorry you didn't enjoy it much.

budh.aaah said...

Yes the title does say it and who would want to read about people who like her..wouldnt we rather be reading her book then :)
And if the read was interesting then well ok but thank you for your valuable guidance there that it isnt..so wont take chances

dr.antony said...

I was mistaken like others. The name is misleading.I remember having heard about the JASNA ( JA society of North America).have they got something to do with it?

joemmama said...

I read it a long time ago and felt meh about it, but liked the movie better.

GMR said...

Hmm, I've always wondered about this one having seen the title in the local bookstore a few times....think I may just continue to wonder after that though. Thanks for sharing!