THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A book club discuss the works of Jane Austen and experience their own affairs of the heart in this charming “tribute to Austen that manages to capture her spirit” (The Boston Globe).
In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.
Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.
With its many section breaks and point-of-view shifts, Fowler's newest book (following Sister Noon) poses significant challenges for a single narrator. But stage actress Schraf overcomes these obstacles with ease, her voice taking on just a touch of haughtiness for the chapters told from the "we" perspective and then switching back to an unassuming tone for the third-person sections. It may take listeners a short while to grasp the story's structure, but once they do, they'll be hopelessly snared by this witty look at the lives and loves of six people, all members of Central Valley, California's "all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club." As the members discuss Austen's stance on marriage, social status and love, the narrative meanders, touching on defining moments in the characters' lives and then drifting back to describe their current dilemmas: single, middle-aged Jocelyn has never been in love; French teacher Prudie can't stop thinking about men other than her husband; chatty Bernadette has decided to "let herself go"; warm-hearted Sylvia still loves her soon-to-be-ex-husband; emotional Allegra has left her girlfriend; and sci-fi aficionado Grigg is infatuated with someone who may not share his affection. Through subtle alterations of tone and inflection, Schraf neatly conveys the emotions and idiosyncrasies of each character, from Prudie's impossibly pretentious French asides to Bernadette's airy, endless storytelling. Playful and intelligent, this audiobook embodies the best of both the written and aural worlds. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Forecasts, Mar. 22).
The Jane Austen Book Club
Quelle roman a clef! This author builds her characters in layers; revealing bit by bit, fascinatingly important facts. Time holds still while you read, yet time passes too quickly and you find yourself bereft after finishing. Sip slowly and enjoy this novel like a good wine! Ms. Fowler's wit and steady recounting of this tale of relationships is not unlike Ms. Austen's steady, modest pace. "I can't wait for the movie," said she sardonically.
Better than the film
I remember some of Jane's most memorable characters and picked up the film as "the perfect anecdote to life." on a trip to DC I wanted something to read on the flight home. I picked up the book and could not put it down. Joceyln and Allegra's stories are far more developed in the book especially roots of sexual assault and a mistrust if love. If you love Jane Austen and how she advocated the strength and resourcefulness of women... Read the book club. You would have wished Jane had been able to write 6 more.