I have always dreamed of being a part of a book club. The real deal, you understand, with a group of dedicated readers who come together and revel in the reading, laughing their way through this book or the other while eating various baked goods. The dedicated readers themselves are quirky and different, each bringing something unique and amusing to our table-less discussions, as we sit cosily about with tureens of tea, dissecting this book or that.
I may want to travel the world; doesn’t mean I don’t have a few poky dreams!
So when I started reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, I was looking forward to a novel about a group of women who come to find themselves through the works of Jane Austen. I must first confess that upon first picking up this novel, I had only previously read Pride and Prejudice. A victim of my ninth grade english class, I was forced to read the book for some personal reading project, and wound up enjoying it. Now, years later, I have followed up that first reading with numerous movie watchings, and a strong and unabiding love for the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, on Youtube. And I felt, as only someone who has read only P&P can, that I had a handle on Jane Austen.
This book proved me wrong, and I have Emma waiting in the wings to be read as we speak! Fowler seems to love Austen, a love she bequeaths to her characters. The characters themselves are interesting, each with their own secrets and quirks and hidden corners. The plot is fairly predictable, allowing this to be quite a calm read. While each of the characters has his or her time to undergo turmoil, the fact is that this is a very calm, rolling novel. Throughout the book I found myself rooting for one character or the other, and in the end the Happy Ever Afters made me sigh happily before I closed the book.
Similar things can be said for the movie. Perfectly pleasant, it didn’t really incite true emotion in me (all though it did tease out a chuckle or two!) This is a movie I’ve already added to my illness repertoire – it’s a sweet, harmless movie with a feel good ending and a satisfying premise. When I reached the end, I found myself yearning to join a book club and read more Austen. I found that I had grown to love these characters in the sweet way we love our neighbors pets.
This is a good book, and a good movie as well (although the directors took plenty of creative licenses!) I would recommend it to a friend looking for a good beach read, or something to throw into their bag for the doctor’s office; while being pleasant and satisfying, it is not the type of book that is going to light anybody’s world on fire.