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Calling All Jane Austen FansNew book: "The Jane Austen Book Club"


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#1 vagansmom

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 04:18 PM

Today's New York Times reviews Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club. Read the review here This is from the article

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."

and

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.

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 30 April 2004 - 09:53 AM

Yes, I want to read it too. It sounds like a refreshing change from the sequels and completions ("Sanditon," "Antipodes Jane." etc.) perpetrated by supposed Austen admirers. As a male member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, I'm particularly pleased that one of the six members of "The Jane Austen Book Club," is another "obvious irritant."

#3 Jacqueline

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 07:44 AM

Well, I finally got a copy when I went to purchase summer reading for dd. Can't wait to delve in after we've dropped her off at her SI this weekend.

Incidentally, my youngest (almost 12) and I have been in a mother/daughter book club for almost five years -- since the girls were in second grade. Their wonderful second grade teacher still attends, and for her birthday, we gave her The Jane Austen Book Club along with vagansmom's other suggestion Eats Shoots and Leaves. She reports loving both.

#4 chauffeur

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 06:18 AM

I hope it's not too late to add my two cents to this thread. I was just wandering through the section and noticed it. As a Jane Austen Society of North America member, too, I was a little apprehensive about this one. YOu just so hate to be disappointed when people tamper with the great Jane, yet you can't help hoping that someone will revive something of her genius.

But I must admit I was underwhelmed by the book. It just didn't grab me and keep me grabbed. I was amused in many places but the fact that I was easily able to put the book and walk away from it many times tells me the characters just weren't fully realized enough to engage me. (and -- putting my persnickety JASNA hat on here -- the author's insistence on calling JA "Miss Austen" was most unfortunate and incorrect. As the second daughter, she would have been called "Miss Jane," hence the term "Janeites." Her older sister Cassandra was "Miss Austen" in the nomenclature of the time. A most egregious error on Fowler's part!)

But, in contrast, I must call attention to a 2003 Clare Boylan novel, "Emma Brown," which completes an unfinished Charlotte Bronte fragment (sniff, sniff, RIP Austen's "Sanditon"). This reworking of a master's theme/material/whatever is very well done and I had a very hard time putting this one down. I even made a perfect tear-leaking fool of myself, reading it on the sidelines of my son's soccer game.

#5 Farrell Fan

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:21 AM

My reaction was like chauffeur's. I not only found "The Jane Austen Book Club" easy to put down, I found it increasingly difficult to pick up. As a result, I never finished it.

#6 Juliet

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:24 AM

I'm with Farrell Fan on this one. Not to disparage others who liked it, however!!!

I like your description, FF :wink:

#7 Mary J

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:25 AM

Unfortunately, I am also a member of the put it down and didn't pick it back up group.

#8 Jacqueline

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 10:16 AM

Me, too. In fact, I am a little embarrassed that based on all the buzz, I gave this book as a gift without having read it myself first.

#9 TutuMaker

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 08:35 AM

I loved this book! I frequently found my self laughing out loud. My kids always wanted to know what was so funny. Unlike the other posters here, I had a difficult time putting it down. I loved the characters and especially how the female members reacted to the male member of the book club.

vagansmom---did you ever read it? What were your thoughts?

#10 dirac

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 02:11 PM

Thank you for chiming in, TutuMaker. I haven't read it myself, as I've become deeply suspicious of the sequels, prequels, and the Jane Austen Multimedia Industry that seems to have sprung up (yet another version of Pride and Prejudice on the way, starring Keira Knightley of the terrifying choppers). But I may check it out after all just to see for myself!

#11 vagansmom

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 07:59 PM

:thanks: I'm so glad there are others like me. I couldn't get into this book either! I bought it a year ago, read about 20 pages, put it down on the desk next to my bed, and there it still sits in a pile with other books currently unread. :(

I'm glad you enjoyed it, TutuMaker. Maybe I need to give it another chance...

#12 dirac

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 10:42 AM

I think the problem is that Austen just didn't write enough novels, and so people are desperate for more Jane, any Jane. If only she'd lived to be as productive as Dickens!


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