As a not so romantic person I have never read any of Jane Austen’s books and have never had the intention to do so. Considering this it was very strange of me to pick up a book entitled “The Jane Austen Book Club”. Even though it was hard for me to keep up with some of the discussions I found the book funny, witty and cheerful. The plot is well structured and divided into six main chapters which is the exact number of Austen’s novels and the members of the book club.
The story is based on the recent divorce of Sylvia which determines her best friend Jocelyn to brighten her up. And the Jane Austen book club is created, bringing together the two above, Allegra – Sylvia’s 30 year old, lesbian daughter, Prudie – a French teacher and the youngest of the group, Bernadette – the woman who discovers that not looking at mirrors does make your day better and Grigg – the only man taking part in the activity and a big fan of science-fiction. Definitely not the typical gathering!
With every discussed Jane Austen novel, Karen Joy Fowler uncovers a character’s story and develops new connections which might even lead to forming relationships between the participants. Every single one of them chooses the book, accidentally or on purpose, that has a parallel plot to their own life. With each passing meeting they grow fonder of the club as a whole. Finding faults in each other they come to realize that their own characters are also flawed. The matchmaker Jocelyn learns that love can not always be fitted into her model of the world, Sylvia confronts her fears of being on her own, the impulsive Allegra discovers that her mother’s needs are more important than hers in such a distressful time, Prudie finds out that marriage is worth fighting for, Grigg finds that reality can be as a good as a science-fiction novel and Bernadette sets out on one of her new adventures in the blink of an eye. And all this happens because it is never too late for second chances or a new beginning. That’s all I can say without giving away spoilers. Not having read any of Jane Austen’s books I have probably missed out on some of the finer details which wouldn’t go unnoticed by others.
What I liked the most was the fact that such a book club can change a person in so many ways. It shows you that sometimes you can’t control the world that’s spinning around you and it’s ok to let it go and sometimes you can control the things that are happening to you and make them for the best.
Karen Joy Fowler creates an atmosphere buzzing with excitement and humming ‘Love is in the air’. For all the Jane Austen lovers, grab a nice hot cup of tea, sit in your favorite chair and dig in this wonderful story. As for the others, this book is more than a fulfilling way to spend a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon. Have fun!