The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club: A Novel

(It’s halfway though the Everything Austen Challenge and I’ve just now finished my first book, but I’m not giving up yet…)

I began reading The Jane Austen Book Club because I was losing focus reading Pride and Prejudice.  I love Pride and Prejudice so I couldn’t figure it out.  This book made me remember that I love Jane Austen and now I’m excited to get back to P&P.

For the one person who hasn’t read it, the JABC is about 5 women (and 1 man) of varying ages and personalities.  They meet once a month for 6 months to discuss one novel.  During these discussions we learn more about one of the characters.   There was less Jane Austen in the book than I expected, but I liked what I found instead.  Life goes on for the JABC participants.  They fall in love, out of love, grieve for lost love ones, and continue finding out who exactly they are.  But they kept reading the books and meeting through it all.

I love the reverence that each of the characters (except maybe Grigg) has for Jane Austen. It’s amazing how much she can affect us 200 years later.  Aside from Shakespeare what other English author is so loved?

My favorite passages:

“Jocelyn turned out to like fiddling about with the original story no better than Prudie did.  The great thing about books was the solidity of the written word.  You might change and your reading might change as a result, but the book remained whatever it had always been.  A good book was surprising the first time through, less so the second.  The movies, as everyone knew, had no respect for this.” p. 82

“From the sound of it, no one who’d known Grigg since infancy could have doubted he was born to be a heroine.” p. 152

“There was something appealing in thinknig of a character with a secret life that her author knew nothing about.  Slipping off while the author’s back was turned, to find love in her own way.  Showing up just in time to deliver the next bit of dialogue with an innocent face.  If Sylvia were a character in a book, that’s the kind of character she’d want to be.” p. 171

Personal Thoughts

Everyone brings their own life experiences to their reading and a few things came to me while I was reading.

There was one section near the beginning when the book discusses how divorce affects adult children.  How they merely have their Christmases ruined.  My parents announced that they were getting a divorce last summer after 31 years of marriage.  And it’s a weird thing because I don’t live near either of them and I didn’t at the time they split up so part of me never really had to deal with it the way I would have had this happened 10 years ago.  It’s strange going home because they sold the house I grew up in and the family feels so small.  Sometimes I get homesick for something that doesn’t exist anymore, but usually I just go on with my life.  [However, I am spending Thanksgiving in Boston with Dad and Christmas in Michigan with Mom and Ben’s parents.]

Prudie discusses how her mother used to convinve her she’d done things that she hadn’t actually done.  She had trouble remembering which things she actually did and which were just stories.  My dad does the same thing to a lesser degree.  He tells me stories of all the places he took me when I was too small to remember but others tell me some of them didn’t actually happen.  In a  similar vein, we got our first video camera (a 20 pound contraption in the 1980s that only my dad could lift) when I was 6.  He made me and my brother reenact the first 6 and 4 years of our life to make up for it.

I guess this book made me think of my parents.

Final Thought: All Austen addicts should read this. Also, am I the only one that has a red cover for this book?

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6 thoughts on “The Jane Austen Book Club

  1. KatharineGrate September 23, 2009 / 7:26 pm

    They read the same book for six months? I don't think I quite get it.


  2. Vishy September 24, 2009 / 12:52 am

    I loved your review! I read the book a few months back and I liked it very much too! The last quote that you have mentioned – about characters in a book having a secret life of their own – was one of my favourites too 🙂 It was interesting to read in your post about how Shakespeare and Jane Austen are the two English authors who are the most loved. What do you think about Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, R.L.Stevenson (for his adventure stories and 'A Child's Garden of Verses') 🙂
    My copy of the book has a yellow cover.
    There was a movie which came out, which was based on 'The Jane Austen Book Club'. I actually saw the movie first and liked it so much that I got the book and read it (I normally read a book first before seeing the book-based movie). I would recommend the movie too, if you like movies which are based on books.


  3. Michelle September 25, 2009 / 3:11 pm

    Different book each month. I guess I could have been clearer.


  4. Michelle September 25, 2009 / 3:13 pm

    Thanks! I'm biased because I love Austen more than any other English author, but I think Dickens fans have a good argument.I plan on seeing the movie. Now that I think about it, I believe the movie/book were one item on my Everything Austen challenge list so I guess I cheated a little.


  5. Vishy September 25, 2009 / 9:51 pm

    Austen is definitely wonderful! I saw the movie version of 'Mansfield Park' sometime back and liked it very much. Now I want to read the book soon.
    Hope you enjoy watching the movie version of 'The Jane Austen Book Club'. The movie has a few surprises and so I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the movie.


  6. Emily September 27, 2009 / 5:50 pm

    I loved this book – and it was one instance where I loved the movie just as much (if not more!) than the book. They are quite a bit different. It also made me want to start a real life Jane Austen Book Club (the movie especially did). I think the book & movie were also my inspiration to read all 6 books last year too. :)I will be interested to hear what you think of the movie as well.


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