Book Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

When at the OLA Super Conference at the beginning of the year, I was excited to see that there were author signings of The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. I enjoy reading any books featuring Jane Austen and went to stand in the line early on to ensure that I received a copy of the ARC. I was beaming when I walked away with a signed copy of the book.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Blurb:

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

My thoughts:

I felt a connection with the characters in this novel as they all enjoy reading the novels by Jane Austen, as do I. The story is set in the place where Austen lived (Chawton) and so that added another connection for me. The story is set in the period after the World War and focuses on a group of people who have all experienced some sort of suffering. Even though the novel references the start of the Jane Austen Society, it is not a work of historical fiction.

Many references are made in the novel to Austen’s work, in particular Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I loved these references and they added another dimension to the story for me. I figuratively rubbed my hands in glee when I caught a reference.

The Jane Austen Society is not a fast-paced novel. Instead it moves at the pace of Austen’s novels as we glimpse into the lives of the characters – characters who experience ordinary lives and come to realisations that ordinary people do. This is a novel that embraces change and quiet strength. This is a novel that embraces ordinary people who get together to create a tribute to someone they admire. This is a novel that embraces healing. This is a novel that I savoured, enjoyed, and will probably re-read. The Jane Austen Society is a must-read for anyone who enjoys Austen’s books and any references to her in novels.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 47th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: Jane Austen, A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

I enjoy reading Jane Austen’s novels and have read them more than once. When I came across Jane Austen, A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef, I was extremely interested to read the book. The blurb promises an insightful and compelling biography that would be fun to read.

The pages within the book were disappointing though. A few tidbits of Austen’s life were given, but these were very brief. The description written of her life was dry and factual (and not at all fun to read). Many of the pages described the story lines of the books she had written – books that I  had already read and knew. I would have preferred a description of a day in her life, as well as a more detailed discussion of the troubles she would have had publishing in that era as a woman. Even though the book outlined in brief the life of Jane Austen, I was disappointed as I had wished for more detail.

I give this novel ⭐⭐2 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 47th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

 The novel opens with a letter written to Arabella Dempsey from Jane Austen. Yes, the Jane Austen of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Not only is this novel sprinkled with the appearance of Jane Austen, but it mirrors the style found in her classic novels.

The characters in Lauren Willig’s tale, The Mischief of the Misletoe, remind us of Austen’s era: an era during which a woman without money did not have many choices. Arabella makes her choice to teach at a school for girls in order to keep her independence, support herself, and create an opportunity for her younger sisters to be educated. It is while at the school that our heroine comes into contact once again with Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh, a man often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the “Pink Carnation”. Their encounter is cemented by a cryptic message found on a Christmas pudding which they wish to solve.

Not all action surrounding the pudding is in jest, and some unexpected revelations are unearthed. I savoured every page of this novel: the humour, the old-fashioned gallantry, and the resonance of Austen’s world. A fan of Austen’s story telling, I have become a follower of Willig’s stories and am looking forward to devouring the rest of the tales in this series.

I enjoy reading books of this genre. Do you? What books do you enjoy reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012