Friday, 18 February 2011

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

There is just so much of interest for the Jane Austen fan in this novel. Every character, every plotline, mirrors one created by Jane Austen.

So, if the character hosting the book club is reading Pride and Prejudice, say, you can be sure that her personal circumstances are similar to those of Lizzy Bennet etc. It happens every time.  There are many, many Austen echoes running through the novel.  Even some of the characters names come from the original texts. (I wont give all the references away - half the fun is discovering the little nods to Austen yourself!)

It was great fun seeing how Karen Joy Fowler managed to turn the stories inside out, to make them fit together; to propel them into the modern period.
For that alone, I found it most enjoyable. It was cleverly done and most of the time I didn’t find it overly-contrived or laboured.

This book contained a wonderful array of characters, each dealing with their own set of problems and struggling to keep on top of things.  Mothers, daughters, brothers and fathers - they are all here.  But above all, this is a book about friendship and how a group of strangers come together because of their interest in Jane Austen.

To truly love or appreciate this book, you need to love, or at least know, the works of Jane Austen. Otherwise, so much is overlooked. I’d happily recommend it to Austenites… but to anyone else, I might suggest looking at Austen herself first, before reading.

No comments: