Book Review – The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

This book is described as a group of people who get together once a month to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, and they do but if you’re expecting page upon page of in depth analysis on the work of Austen from these fictional characters then you’ll be disappointed.

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Yes, the group do select a different book each month and meet but it is punctuated with a background of further understanding of the characters that make up the six. Jocelyn and Sylvia have been friends since they were children and are now in their 50’s, Allegra is Sylvia’s daughter, Bernadette is an old friend, Prudie met Jocelyn at a screening of Persuasion and Grigg, the only guy, was invited by Jocelyn who met him at a Sci-fi convention.

It’s a strange bunch of characters with some interesting dynamics, but it seems to work, although perhaps on paper, it shouldn’t. There was something quite comforting about the book, the love of Austen that connected these people together, and the few times insight was offered, it was interesting to gain a different perspective on the famous novelist’s work. However this was too little for me, whilst it was interesting to hear more about the characters it felt that some were favoured more by Karen Joy Fowler than others. I know Jocelyn and Sylvia were the main protagonists but I felt we missed out on learning more about people like Bernadette (who seemed to have an intriguing and full life) or Grigg, or even Prudie who spoke French but had never visited the country. And for me this made the book fall a little flat.

I could understand what Karen was trying to do but I felt that she rushed the developing storylines between the characters a bit too fast and made them a little too obvious which took away the mystery and excitement that would have otherwise been there. That being said I appreciated the way the novel highlighted some of Austen’s lesser-known work, and hopefully in doing so it will encourage a whole new generation of book lovers to discover her work, it was clear to see that Karen Joy Fowler has a lot of love for Jane Austen, but I feel her idea wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.

I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy the work of Miss Jane Austen, or those who are looking for something fairly easy going to read.

Star Rating out of 5: 3

It is not everyone who has your passion for dead leaves.

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Happy reading fellow bookworms.

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Facebook – Book Nomination

I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to select the 10 Books that have ‘stayed with me’ – So I thought it would be nice to share them here too (you will notice some repeats from my previous posts and lists) but here it goes, in no particular order.

1) The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling – I know it’s not a singular book, but the whole series captivated my imagination and gave me an incredibly immersive reading experience. I felt that Hogwarts was my home and I will always love Jo for giving me, and many others like me, a truly amazing book series with some of the best characters created.

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is a book I read at High School and I remember falling in love with it straight away. It was easy to imagine the surroundings, the characters and the tensions. It’s probably one of the first books I read that made me feel heartbroken at the injustices and ignorance of society.

3) Matilda by Roald Dahl – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, minus the horrible parents and scary Miss Trunchbull, I felt that Matilda was a reflection of myself when I was younger. I found more contentment and happiness in books and powered through as many novels as I could get my hands on. It warms the heart.

4) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield – The copy I own is literally falling apart, I’ve had to cello tape the spine together and have to be very careful with the pages, as some of them are loose. I adore this book, about three very different girls, who become sisters at an early age because of various tragedies. But each one with a different life ambition to the other. This book taught me that it’s ok to be different from other girls and that no matter where you come from, you are capable of achieving great things.

5) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – A book, I sadly, only read this year and one I regrettably wish I would had read a lot sooner. It takes an unflinching look at living day-to-day life with depression, and the painful journey to recover some normality and become you again. Quite heart-breaking but incredibly poignant and well written.

6) 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane – Technically this a play, but again it deals with loss and depression and was written after Sarah Kane’s partner passed away. It’s quite a harrowing read as Kane reflects on her incredibly personal experiences of dealing with grief. It’s quite fragmented as a read, but it provides an insight into subject matters that are usually pussyfooted around. A fine piece of writing and theatre.

7) Dracula by Bram Stoker – Incredibly atmospheric, well written and one of the first vampire novels I read. This is an absolute classic and is partly responsible in my life long fascination with vampires, much better than Twilight and the book to film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola is an absolute feast for Gothic Horror fans everywhere.

8) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I adore this book. It was the first book by Austen that my dad gave to me. And I became absorbed in the time period, I thought, and still do think, that Elizabeth Bennet is one of the strongest female literary characters ever written. So intelligent, headstrong and outspoken. A classic book, which I will never tire of re-visiting time and time again.

9) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Not only have I always loved Christmas more than anything, but also this book has so many morals and lessons to teach. A book that can save the soul and give a whole new perspective to just how beautiful and lovely life can be, if only you step back and stop being so self involved.

10) King Lear by William Shakespeare – This tragedy is probably one of Shakespeare’s finest pieces of work and yet doesn’t seem to be as favoured as other work. Truly heart-breaking but incredibly well written and filled with plenty of drama. If the ending doesn’t have you sobbing, I don’t know what will (Psst! I’m referring to the bit where Lear carries in Cordelia) Feel free to share your Top 10 in the comments section below.

Happy reading fellow bookworms!

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Book Treat.

So as I already have a beautiful copy of Pride and Prejudice, signed by amazing daddy who is, sadly no longer with us, I thought it would be nice to try and get a full collection of Austen’s work. I spotted this on Amazon a while back and thought I’d treat myself to it.

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It arrived today and I have fallen quite in love with it, so I am going to collect the others (minus Pride and Prejudice) in this collection. It’s Vintage Classics Austen Collection, for those of you who are lovers of all things Austen.

Happy reading fellow book nerds.

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