THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB by KAREN JOY FOWLER.
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.