The Jane Austen Book Club
by Karen Joy Fowler
Category: Fiction / General
288 pages; ISBN: 0-399-15161-3
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Ethel Stockton
You might say, this is just another book club story, but Fowler has given it distinction, in that, at least partially, there is discussion of the books of Jane Austen.
The book club books, I’ve read so far, are more interested in the people reading, than they are in the books. This book is no exception in some ways, as the lives of the readers are told in great detail, but Jane gets a fair shake in the discussions.
I agree with Grigg, one of the characters, that reading Jane Austen in the 21st Century, is like reading science-fiction. I think I was 12, the first time I read her, and I was fascinated with the gentry, the clothes, the estates and the stilted language. Just as now I am fascinated by the clothes, the unknown animals, the homes, and the newly minted language, of sci-fi books set in the 25th Century, or beyond.
I loved the end of this book, when reviews about her books, from Jane Austen’s family and, from people all over the world, were shown, the good and the bad.
I also liked the part about discussions, as here the author has given each of us an opportunity to agree or disagree with the protagonists.
All in all, I found this to be an interesting group of women, and one man, but I do hope this will not establish a new genre in fiction, titled “Book Clubs”.
If we want to write about women’s lives, let’s do it in a different setting, even if we have to resort to the Country Club crowd or the Bowling Alley bunch.
I don’t believe the authors care about the books. It’s just someplace to hang the housewives.