Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler

I read this book for the Ladies' Night Book Group, which meets this Thursday, Jan 17, at 7pm. I starting reading it, but because of the multitude of characters, I chose to listen to it on audioCD instead, hoping the narrator's voices would help me connect each character.

The story is about a group of women, and one man, who form the Jane Austen Book Club to discuss their favorite author. The chapters are divided into parts containing one Jane Austen novel discussed at one of the main character's house. If you have not read Jane Austen, have no fear. The story is about the character's themselves and their stories, how they came together, which turns out to be an eclectic bunch.

For starters, you have Jocelyn who is a older, single, breeder of Australian Ridgebacks. Sylvia, who was Jocelyn's best friend growing up, and going through a divorce with her husband of 30 years. Allegra, her lesbian daughter who is going through a separation from her girlfriend. Prudy, a high school french teacher who has never been to Paris. Bernadette, the eccentric thrice married woman who love to tell stories about her husbands. And Greg, a Sci-Fi fan who met Jocelyn at a hotel that was hosting a dog show and a sci-fi convention at the same time.

It is fun and fascinating to peek into the world of an intimate book club, who are so much more than Jane Austen fans. Fowler does a wonderful job at capturing the complexity of interpersonal relationships among men and women. For some, the point of view, which is first person plural as in "We couldn't believe Greg hadn't read Pride and Prejudice," can be a little disconcerting but I was able to overlook it and thoroughly enjoyed this book.

This movie was also released in theatres recently, though I have not seen it. Wait for it on DVD!


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