By Karen Joy Flower
There are two reasons why I choose The Jane Austen Book Club to review. First off I really enjoyed the movie and second I always wanted to be in a Jane Austen book club. Yes, I was a strange child. But the idea of coming together with others that love reading to talk about Austen’s books always seemed fascinating (and one never tires of calling Wickham a cad!).
In the novel we follow six Californians over six months as they discuss Jane Austen and face the realties’ of life. Each month is dedicated to one member and one Austen book. In the beginning we are told that each person has their own private Austen and we discover who Austen is to each member.
The book had a solid beginning, between the discussions and flashbacks of characters I found it fun and interesting. The point of view makes the reader feel like they are a part of the club itself and are sitting on the porch or in the living room listening to different opinions and ideas. But somewhere along the third or fourth section the book becomes more about the members and Jane gets a little left behind. Don’t get me wrong the characters, though a bit stereotypical, are compelling enough to carry the book. I just would have loved to hear as much discussion about Persuasion as Emma. Also the Pride and Prejudice month was a bit of a disappointment save for Bernadette’s stories.
The members of the book club are very likable and Flower does a good job of making them either relatable or entertaining. The only major annoyance to me was how the ladies treated Grigg, the only male member, who with Bernadette was one of my favorite members. I know good characters have flaws but I didn’t feel like the reader was given any solid reason why Grigg was meet with such resistance, other than him being male (I guess that was a good enough reason for the ladies).
Even though I had some disappointments with the novel I do believe that it is a good read and if you liked the movie then you would most likely enjoy the book as well. With the summer fast approaching I would recommend taking this book on one’s travels (even if you are just traveling to the porch).
Review by T.R. Smith