Over the years my experience with book groups has been good; several have been the basis of lasting friendships. I also am fond of Jane Austin’s books. Now it would make sense that a book by Karen Joy Fowler titled THE JANE AUSTIN BOOK CLUB would catch my eye. Sometimes a book sounds better than it actually is.
Five women and one man have formed a book group to discuss Jane Austin’s novels. Each person has his or her favorite book and is able to identify with at least one character from the books.
During the six months that they meet we get to know them and their relationships with each other. The problem was that I really did not care to get to know any of them better. The plot deals more about the characters as they grew up and their dysfunctional families than we may have needed.
In the middle of telling us about the lies that were told to children, Fowler randomly throws in a section from one of Jane Austin’s books or, even more confusingly, a section written during the Regency Period by an obscure author. I am sure that Fowler had a point to make with these quotes, but I was just lost, with no idea of where she was going with them.
The book has no real plot, no real character development, and no poetic language; these are the things that I look for in a book. By now you are probably asking why I actually finished the book. (I sometimes wondered that myself.)
Two things kept me going: One, I wanted to see if things got better, and two, I wanted to warn you to avoid what looked like a good read. THE JANE AUSTIN BOOK CLUB has been on bestseller lists and has been made into a movie.
It was a case of my feeling that am I missing something or was it a case of the complimentary comments on the jacket being misleading. I have come to a conclusion---it is the latter. There are too many good books waiting for us to waste our time on this one. You may want to skip this one.