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I don't review books I don't like!
*****= An all-time favorite
**The Jane Austen Book Club
by Karen Joy Fowler
Reviewed June 5, 2004.
A Marian Wood Book (Putnam), New York, 2004. 288 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F FOW).
I loved the idea of this book. It follows a group of people who meet monthly to discuss the books of Jane Austen. The idea was fun, and I enjoyed the discussions about Jane Austen’s books. I did a paper on Jane Austen when I was in college. I spent the month before the paper reading all of the novels, then wrote the paper the night before it was due. So it was fun to read about these books I loved.
What I didn’t like was that I would have preferred a book that tried for Jane Austen’s tone. Early on, we hear about a distasteful sexual episode in the past life of one of the book club members. That sort of thing gives the book a very different flavor from a Jane Austen novel.
I didn’t find myself caring too much about very many of the characters, or even feeling that I knew them very well. The narrator often used “we,” but it wasn’t clear which of the characters was speaking for the group, although it was clear that they all had very different viewpoints. That kept me a bit at a distance.
All the same, it was an entertaining book, and I did love the idea. I think my favorite part was that, at the end, the author included a section on what different people have said about Jane Austen over the years. I also loved a little section where each member of the book club gives discussion questions about the book you’ve just read. They’re great questions, and it’s fun to see the characters’ personalities and interests reflected in them. They would make this book a great book club selection itself, though it would help if most of the members have read some Jane Austen.
Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund. All