ir Walter Scott, romantic and clangorously popular: "The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going" but not "the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting." G. K. Chesterton defending Austen's sheltered life and small palette: "Jane Austen may have been protected from truth: but it was precious little of truth that was protected from her."
Such quotations (and cavils from the dislikes of Mark Twain, Henry James and Joseph Conrad) cluster ingeniously in an afterword to "The Jane Austen Book Club" by Karen Joy Fowler. Ms. Fowler, an original and unexpectedly voiced novelist ("Sarah Canary," "The Sweetheart Season"), takes her own place among the shining responders. Not just with comments of her own, though there are some excellent ones, but with the entire playful structure of her new novel.
I sure want to read this book.