Page of Tarts review of The Jane Austen Book Club

jane austenPage of Tarts Review of

The Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler

Any other fans of Jane Austen out there in Tartlandia, or am I alone? If there are no other fans, WHY NOT?!?  …I know, I know, “To each his own,” right?

 

Well, I am an unabashed fan. I have read all six of her novels (my favorite and most beloved being Pride & Prejudice). I enjoy most of the books’ film adaptations (although my favorite P&P ones are the updated versions: Bridget Jones’ Diary and the YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries .

Page of Tarts

I am even thinking of giving Pride, Prejudice & Zombies a go. Zombies aren’t really my cup of tea (See La Revelant if they’re yours), but *Pride & Prejudice!*, am I right??

 

My love of Austen is what lead me to The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. I had heard of it while watching a Hyperhyperduo YouTube video geared toward gift ideas for the Jane Austen fan (Hey! That’s me!).

 

I then happened upon a copy while browsing Half Price Books with a dear friend. The prologue was well written and witty and more Jane Austen bits were promised.

 

I bought it. (We could go on rabbit trail about me mostly being a borrower of books rather than a buyer, but let’s not.)

 

The set up was simple enough: Follow six characters (Jocelyn, Sylvia, Prudie, Bernadette, Grigg, and Allegra) over six months as they meet to discuss each of Austen’s six novels. -insert joke about evil omens here-

 

This story is similar to Austen’s work in that it is a story about people and their interactions & relationships with others.

 

Jocelyn ties everyone together. The book club was her idea. She plans and orchestrates and prefers to have everything happen just so. She is a matchmaker and often attempts to set couples up even though she describes herself as happily unmarried.

 

Sylvia is Jocelyn’s oldest and closest friend. They met when they were 11. Jocelyn even introduced Sylvia to the man, Daniel, who would become her husband. That bit of history is not as happy at the moment because after 30+ years of marriage, Daniel has asked for a divorce. The book club may be Jocelyn’s attempt to distract her friend during a difficult time.

 

The club is a motley crew. In addition to Jocelyn & Sylvia we have:

 

Prudie, a high-school French teacher that likes herself better when she speaks in French.

 

Bernadette, the eldest member of the group at 67. Her introduction in the prologue made me laugh:

“She’d recently announced that she was, officially, letting herself go. ‘I just don’t look in the mirror anymore,’ she told us. ‘I wish I’d thought of it years ago….

‘Like a vampire,’ she added, and when she put it that way, we wondered how it was that vampires always managed to look so dapper. It seems that more of them should look like Bernadette.”

 

Grigg, the only male and unknown to the majority of the group (the group that has “known Jocelyn long enough to wonder whom Grigg was intended for.”)

 

And Allegra, Sylvia’s daughter. She is “a creature of extremes -either stuffed or starving, freezing or boiling…”.

 

I found the characters interesting, well drawn, and full of depth. It was interesting to see how each of them related to Austen’s work and each other. Over the six months life happens. People learn, grow, and change.

 

It is a story about people and I enjoyed reading it. You may like it even if you’re not an Austen fan. Maybe you will be a Fowler fan.

 

Sent from my iMagination,

The Page of Tarts

 

P.S. If you are an Austen fan please tell me in the comments!!

 

jane austenThe Jane Austen Book Club

Release date: April 26, 2005 |
Publisher: Plume  |
Genre: Fiction
Karen Joy Fowler (Author)
ISBN: 978-0452286535 |
ASIN: B000OCXHA4
Format: Print and ebook

 

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.

 

♥ Buy this print book from: Amazon| Barnes & Noble |

♥ Buy this ebook from: Amazon| Barnes & Noble |

5 Replies to “Page of Tarts review of The Jane Austen Book Club”

  1. Hey! I discovered JA as an adult, after Emma. No one nails characters like Jane. That sounds kinky, but I trust you will understand my non-innuendo laden meaning. I am disturbed by the sheer quantity of mash ups of Jane and other classics. While there have been a few exceptions basing a book on another book seems like a cop out or a writing exercise. I don’t think THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB is a mash up. I think P & P & Zombies is. I think BDSM P & P books are as well. A mash up works if it tells us something new about the original, or is a way of telling the original story from a different point of view or translating it in time (Clueless).

    I can sort of see “Well, what if Regency England were overrun with Zombies?” In reality it sort of was — infectious disease was rampant throughout the world prior to modern sanitation. In a sense, that disease in the contagious period made an infectious “zombie” of the victim. After all, few would recover, their flesh was often rather icky, fever sometimes made them seem inhuman and mad, and they could take others down with the strength of the virus coursing through their bodies. My point is that P & P & Zs doesn’t seem like something I have to read because I don’t think it is going to tell me anything new about the time or the characters or human nature. Please, let me know if it is something I desperately MUST read.

    1. Well, it turns out neither Pride, Prejudice, & Zombies nor Mr Darcy Takes a Wife suit my taste. I had just finished re-reading P&P and couldn’t stomach either author’s take on my beloved characters. I shall stick with my Lizzie Bennet Diaries for extra P&P love

  2. I agree mash ups are iffy. I relate them to fan fiction. If the characters seem true to my interpretation the original I tend to enjoy it…but sometimes it’s more awkward than sour milk when someone has just asked for cream in their coffee.

    Love the Clueless shout out! That is another updated adaptation I remember enjoying.

    Thanks for commenting, and I’ll keep you posted on P&P & zombies.

  3. I am a HUGE Jane Austen Fan!! Loved this book and the movie also! So happy to stop by and “meet” another JA fan 😀 I’ve read all her books and seen most of the movies/adapatations.

    Really enjoyed your review of The Jane Austen Book Club…thank you for sharing!

    I admit I haven’t checke dout P&P & Zombies….hard to imagine Mr. Darcy slaying zombies. Have you read the sequels to P&P written by Linda Berdoll? ” Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife” ….while rather racy in parts I felt she did a very good job of keeping true to the characters. It was fun reading her interpretation of what happened after P&P ended.

    1. I agree it is hard to imagine Mr. Darcy slaying zombies! …I am approaching book with great caution. After reading it, maybe I will think all the P&P characters were body snatched and forced into the story. …I really should hunt it down and read it instead of just talking about reading it.

      I haven’t read “Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife”, but now I am interested. I think I saw it in book store once and worried characters would be body snatched (I worry about this quite a bit when contemplating whether or not to read a sequels written by new authors or mash ups. :).

      Jane Austen Book Club Movie is on my “to be watched” list. Alas, neither Netflix nor Redbox has it at the moment.

      Have you watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries??? I try not to use word “love” out of turn, but I may love them ^_^

      Thanks for stopping by & commenting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *