* INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER *
"This novel delivers sweet, smart escapism." —People
"Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal." —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.
In Jenner's delightful debut, a group of people are united by the goal of preserving an iconic literary figure. In post-WWII Chawton, England, farmer Adam Berwick embarks on a quest to honor the legacy of Jane Austen, seeking the help of his doctor, Benjamin Gray, to establish a museum in the cottage where Austen lived. The two men form the Jane Austen Society with former schoolteacher and young widow Adeline Grove. The society's membership grows to include solicitor Andrew Forrester; Frances Knight, whose family owns the cottage and the Great House once belonging to Jane's brother; and young maid Evie Stone, who has catalogued valuable books from the library at the Great House. When Frances's father dies, his will leaves her without a claim to the cottage if a male heir is found, and the society bands together to try to purchase the cottage and preserve the valuable books that Evie has catalogued. Jenner's immersive character development is juxtaposed against her study of Austen's characters, providing clever insight into how the trials of Austen's life were revealed through her books. The narrative, meanwhile, is rich with references to Austen's literature and carried along by the strong bonds formed by the characters based on their shared appreciation for her work. Austen-ites are in for a treat.