STORY | Life in the village of Chawton isn’t the same as it once was. The aftereffects of war still plague some of its residents. This includes Adam Berwick, a man who lost his brothers to war; and the town doctor, Gray, a man who lost his wife and still grieves her death even as someone else inspire his protective side. Adeline is excited to welcome her child into the world, an event that is helping to heal her heart from the loss of her young childhood sweetheart husband; Frances Knight lives in the shadow of her father’s imposing figure, and as a result never finds a happy end; then there’s the American actress Mimi Harrison, a woman who is losing all she knows even as she is about to say yes to a marriage that may not be right for her.
All lives who seemingly have nothing in common save for the one thing that makes them feel happiest the works and words of Jane Austen…
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner | Book Review
REVIEW | This is one of the most hyped novels of this, its publication year. Or it is in my circle. As a result, this is one of those go-out-and-preorder-right-away types of books. The concept of this novel is lovely and while I can appreciate certain aspects of the plots and their varied characters, The Jane Austen Society doesn’t captivate me in the way I wanted it to.
The first 5-10 chapters don’t read well because of the various and multiple characters. Some of whom don’t have the role or impact on the story one would assume. The flurry of people, all while trying to remember where and how to place them, plus the various different dates (until the majority of the books settles in the mid-40s) does nothing to help to ground the reader. All this said, as I’m the only one I’ve seen share reservations, I suspect (again!) this is a “me” thing rather than a larger group of readers.
Some of the characters are extremely endearing, and it’s sweet to pull out the ways Jenner pays tribute to Austen (whether by mirroring some of her characters, love stories). ‘Guernsey’ is all kinds of cozy reading for me, so it’s that novel which still holds my heart when it comes to this time of multi-arc storytelling, but those who love Austen-esque fiction are likely to enjoy The Jane Austen Society. It’s something I did want to enjoy, but my reserved feelings while reading it just won’t go away.
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ABOUT THE BOOK
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Author: Natalie Jenner
Publication Date: 2020
Find the Review Elsewhere: Amazon ǀ Goodreads
Find the Book Elsewhere: Amazon ǀ Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Historical
Rating: 3 out of 5
Content: F-word (rare, but 2-5) and adult thematic elements (there’s an attempted rape/sex; loss of children, husband, the war, homosexuality).