Re-Read: The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Goodreads Summary:
In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

What I Remember:
Since reading the book in 2006, I have watched the movie many times. It’s one of my fall backs when I’m looking for a good chick flick. I probably watch it about once a year. I was very surprised when I started reading to see how different the movie is from the book. I basically remembered nothing from the book version of this story.

My Original Rating:
I read this book before I started using Goodreads to rate books, but it must have been at least a 4 since I kept it all these years. I planned to read it again. Although until now I don’t think I ever did. Probably because the movie came out, and I watched that instead.

My Thoughts on the Book:
I really like the characters in this book. But that’s basically all there is…a lot of characterization and back story, not a lot of plot. I liked that the book was written in the royal “we”. And I did enjoy how each month focused on a specific character (whoever was hosting that month), but until the last two chapters there just wasn’t enough action in the present day story.

I am very impressed with how true the movie is to the original characters and story even though the movie changed a lot. The characters ages were all adjusted (except Prudie). But the movie writers were able to take all of the interesting bits about the characters and pull them into the main plot line. I have to say it: I like the movie so much more than the book.

Of course I love the Austen elements of the story. Although I really should read all of the books. I probably would have enjoyed the bookish discussion more if I was intimately familiar with the book details.

My Re-Read Rating: 3 stars

My Thoughts on My Original Rating:
I read this book when I was still a fairly recent transplant to Milwaukee and shortly after we’d bought our new house and moved to a different suburb. All that to say I didn’t have a lot of friends. Around that time I also tried starting a book club, which wasn’t very successful. I think I loved this book so much in 2006 because of the friendships and the book club aspect. I know I was drawn to it because of the Austen theme, but in that time of my life I think the characters appealed to me a lot despite the lack of plot.

Favorite Quote:
“The great thing about books was the solidity of the written word. You might change and your reading might change as a result, but the book remained whatever it had always been. A good book was surprising the first time through, less so the second.”

The Verdict:
I’ll be donating this book to the library. I think I’ll stick to the movie in the future.

This book was read as part of my 2016 re-read challenge.

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