10.07.08

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Posted in Event, Review at 10:28 pm by Amber

I finished The Good German over the weekend but I’m waiting to watch the movie before I review it.  For now, you’ll get a bonus review of The Jane Austen Book Club which qualifies as part of the Lit Flicks Challenge.

I had no intention of watching the movie and when I looked at the cast list last night I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind.

I enjoyed this book.  Most of the chapters are setup to highlight a character and a Jane Austen book.  The book club is comprised of six members who take turns hosting the group for discussion accompanied by food and drinks.  Their comments about the books reveal some of their thoughts and feelings about the others.  This sounds like it should be chick lit but it’s not; it’s much more than that.

The narrator is someone we never know or meet but is non-judgemental about the characters.  Fowler’s narrator meanders through the past and present of the characters in an unobtrusive manner.  While reading I thought to myself, “There’s no way someone could do flashbacks well enough in a movie to show this without disrupting the present storyline.”

All of the characters are well rounded and have more to them than what lies on the surface.  Even the lone male member of the book club gets the same treatment as the female members.  In short, each gets a chance to shine.  In this passage near the end of the book, Prudie, a married twenty-eight-year-old member watches her husband dance with Bernadette, the oldest member at sixty-seven and the most married.

She turned to look at the dance floor.  It was night behind the five-story arch of glass; inside, the balconies were strung with chains of lights, now lit like constellations.  The band was small and distant.  She saw Dean – tall, handsome, and kind of jerky when he danced, but in a good way.

Bernadette was rotund, but elastic.  She had a serious shimmy in her shoulders, loose knees, rocking hips.  She was sugar-footing one minute, buck-and-winging the next.  A restrained, ladylike cha-cha.  It was too bad Dean was out there with her.  He was obviously holding her back.

Hopefully that short passage gives you an idea of the book.  I’m going to put more of Fowler’s books in my TBR pile.

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13 Comments

  1. Literate Housewife said,

    October 7, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    I’m not sure why, but I could never get into this book. I tried twice, but no dice. I might have to give it another go down the road, though.

  2. Jessica said,

    October 8, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Amber, congratulations on finishing a book for the Lit Flicks Challenge! I have this book on my TBR pile. It sounds like a good, fun read. For some reason, even though I’m a big Jane Austen fan, I’ve never had a desire to see the movie. I’ll definitely read the book though. Thanks for the review.

  3. Natasha @ Maw Books said,

    October 8, 2008 at 1:03 am

    I bought this book but haven’t read it yet. I’ve read some lukewarm reviews on it so I wasn’t that excited. But I’m glad to see that you enjoyed it. Makes me wonder what my reaction will be.

  4. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said,

    October 8, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    I did not like the Jane Austen Book Club as much as I had hoped. It took me a while to get through it.

  5. Nicole said,

    October 8, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Nice review. I read this book too and I felt like it wasn’t quite just chick lit, some parts had a little bit extra. I really enjoyed the setting and getting to know all the characters. It was a nice distraction from some heavier stuff that I was reading.

  6. Rhonda Lee said,

    October 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Totally, totally off topic, but thank you so much for coming to my chat tonight and asking relevant questions 🙂 I was very happy to see you there. You’re so awesome. I can’t wait until I can return the favor for you 🙂

  7. Amber said,

    October 10, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I knew a lot of people had bought or read The Jane Austen Book Club. I suspected the thoughts about it were all over the place and this confirms it. 🙂

    And Rhonda – you’re very welcome!

  8. Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere « Austenprose said,

    October 10, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    […] Story, Pride and Prejudice, Bride and Prejudice Movie, The Jane Austen Handbook, Persuasion, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Darcys and the Bingleys, Me and Mr. Darcy, and The Independence of Mary […]

  9. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said,

    October 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I finished this book as well, but I did not see enough development in the parallels Fowler was trying to make between her characters and those in Jane Austen’s novels. It just didn’t work that well for me. It was a good book.

  10. Toni said,

    October 29, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Hi… The Jane Austen Book Club was a book that I just bought and enjoyed over a evening or so a few years ago. I hadn’t heard much about it at the time and I had no expectation so I thought it was pretty good. But it wasn’t a book that could soar to my list of favorites. It was a cozy read at the time. I did however enjoy the book location as it is familiar to me. Thanks for the review. Good luck with the rest of your Lit Flicks Selections.

  11. Amber said,

    October 31, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Hi Toni! Sometimes the best thing is not to know much about a book before reading it. Then it has no hype to live up to. 🙂

  12. Saturday Review of Books: October 11, 2008 at Semicolon said,

    November 14, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    […] unfinishedperson (Johnny Tremain)136. unfinishedperson (Black Boy — with title this time)137. Amber (The Jane Austen Book Club)138. Amber (The Headless Cupid)139. The Tome Traveller’s Weblog (Company of Liars)140. […]

  13. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Fowler « A Good Stopping Point said,

    October 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    […] Amber Stults – “All of the characters are well rounded and have more to them than what lies on the surface.  Even the lone male member of the book club gets the same treatment as the female members.  In short, each gets a chance to shine.” […]