May 25, 2020

Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Naturally, any book to do with Jane Austen catches my eye, so I was intrigued when I saw the synopsis for this one. There is so much to love about this story, friends. I mean, the fictionalization of how the Jane Austen Society began? And such a mix of characters! Ms. Jenner is quite talented at bringing all her different storylines together into one cohesive big tapestry.

Okay, so I admit that I didn’t love every character. Certainly I didn’t start out loving all of them! A few are easier to love, a few make choices that I didn’t like, still others made me smile every time their point of view appeared again. Yet it was their genuine love of Jane Austen which endeared even the unlikeable ones to me.

My absolute favorite bits of all? Were the moments when they began to come together and each discovered the genuine joy of discussing and analyzing books with likeminded friends!! I get that, I understand that, I LOVED that! Whether it’s Jane Austen or whatever other books we love or hate, discussing the whys and wherefores with someone else who loves to read….there’s just nothing like that feeling. It brings people of all kinds together. And these characters are all so very different! Which is why I loved it when they found they had so many more things in common through discussion of Jane Austen. Jane is so good at bringing people together, don’t you think?

The other thing about this story that kept me turning the pages is how each character, so very different from the others, interprets Austen. How each one reads her stories and sees different things. Which is true of all of us today, just as much as it would’ve been true in the 1940s when this takes place. We all read her books from our own perspective, with our own biases and backgrounds and history playing a part in how we interpret what we read. (This is true of any story we read.) Yet the focus of all these different perspectives coming together and how they learn from each other, how they fall in love, how they grow, how they make choices, both good and bad…it’s all intricately and beautifully woven together.

This isn’t a perfectly written story, as any book isn’t. There were parts that I skimmed over due to not particularly enjoying them, I cannot deny this. Yet watching these characters stumble their way through life and find joyous reason to keep going through Austen’s stories and each other, I could reread those bits without any problem! And will do so, let me tell you. Even just writing this review makes me want to go back and reread the book! I loved all the introspective analysis the characters did which caused me to do the same. They opened my eyes to new perspectives and made me want to reread Austen herself! So I would absolutely recommend this one to all Austen lovers out there. Perfect or not, it is a wonderful homage to the timelessness and beauty of her stories and how she brings so many of us onto common ground together.

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

"He was becoming quite worried for Mr. Darcy. It seemed to Adam that once a man notices a woman's eyes to be fine, and tries to eavesdrop on her conversations, and finds himself overly affected by her bad opinion of him, then such a man is on the path to something uncharted, whether he admits it to himself or not."

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