by Natalie Jenner
Told from multiple perspectives, The Jane Austen Society is everything a Jane Austen lover needs to be sucked into a story. Just after World War II in the town of Chawton, England, a group of acquaintances and strangers find themselves with one common denominator – their absolute love of Jane Austen. In an attempt to save Jane Austen’s home and estate, this group dubs themselves The Jane Austen Society. The readers are taken on a journey of love, loss, friendship, and an Austentatious path to unity.
What a beautiful novel for those to admire Jane Austen’s work. While it took me a bit to fully engross myself in the storyline, in the end, it was just the sweetest read. I enjoyed most aspects of this book. There are a lot of characters to keep up with and I found myself lost at different times (especially listening to the audiobook).
With all of that being said, however, I loved that Jane Austen’s novels themselves are a part of the story. The novels become characters as well – which I found to be a lovely ode to Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the discussions about Austen’s novels like Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park. There were a few characters I loved and felt a connection to (hello Adam and Dr. Gray) and others who I did not wholly connect with.
The group as a whole was a great dynamic. Where The Breakfast Club had the nerd, the princess, the jock, the basket case, the criminal – The Jane Austen Society has the doctor, the teacher, the farmer, the movie star, the lawyer, the Scottsman, the heiress, the scullery maid. It was a delightful cast of misfits who all came together for one great cause: preserving the memory of Jane Austen.
Overall I felt the writing was good. Even though moments it lost my interest and I wanted to skip ahead, the whole book renewed my love for Austen’s writing. The ending was quite satisfying and I felt it held little elements of surprise.
We must also talk about the audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage. I mean…that accent was just everything for this narration. Lovely job by all.
He was becoming quite worried for Mr. Darcy. It seemed to Adam that once a man notices a woman’s eyes to be fine, and tries to eavesdrop on her conversations, and finds himself overly affected by her bad opinion of him, then such a man is on the path to something uncharted, whether he admits it to himself or not.
Adam did not know much about women…but he wondered if in the history of life, as well as in literature, a man had ever fallen into such obvious lust as fast as Mr. Darcy, and not done anything about it except to inadvertently, and so successfully, push it away.Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society
PUBLICATION DETAILS: St. Martin’s Press; 26 May 2020; 309 pages; Historical Fiction
AUDIOBOOK DETAILS: 26 May 2020; 9 hr, 55 min