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The Jane Austen Book Club Hardcover – April 26, 2004
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"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game. Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
Fowler's fifth novel (after PEN/Faulkner award finalist Sister Noon) features her trademark sly wit, quirky characters and digressive storytelling, but with a difference: this one is book clubâ"ready, complete with mock-serious "questions for discussion" posed by the characters themselves. The plot here is deceptively slim: five women and one enigmatic man meet on a monthly basis to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, one at a time. As they debate Marianne's marriage to Brandon and whether or not Charlotte Lucas is gay, they reveal nothing so much as their own "private Austen(s)": to Jocelyn, an unmarried "control freak," the author is the consummate matchmaker; to solitary Prudie, she's the supreme ironist; to the lesbian Allegra, she's the disingenuous defender of the social caste system, etc. The book club's conversation is variously astute, petty, obvious and funny, but no one stays with it: the characters nibble high-calorie desserts, sip margaritas and drift off into personal reveries. Like Austen, Fowler is a subversive wit and a wise observer of human interaction of all stripes ("All parents wanted an impossible life for their childrenâ"happy beginning, happy middle, happy ending. No plot of any kind"). She's also an enthusiastic consumer of popular culture, offsetting the heady literary chat with references to Sex and the City, Linux and "a rug that many of us recognized from the Sundance catalog." Though the 21 pages of quotations from Austen's family, friends and critics seems excessive, the novelty of Fowler's package should attract significant numbers of book club members, not to mention the legions of Janeites craving good company and happy endings.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Fowler, a captivating and good-hearted satirist, exuberantly pays homage to and matches wits with Jane Austen in her most pleasurable novel to date by portraying six irresistible Californians who meet once a month to discuss Austen's six novels. Coyly shifting points of view, Fowler subtly uses her characters' responses to Austen as entree into their poignant and often hilarious life stories. The book club is Jocelyn's idea, a fiftysomething gal who seems to prefer the company of her show dogs to men. She has known Sylvia since grade school, and even used to date Sylvia's husband, who has abruptly moved out, inspiring their beautiful, accident-prone, lesbian artist daughter, Allegra, to move back in and join the book club along with her mother. Also on board are disheveled and loquacious Bernadette; Prudie, a high-school French teacher; and Grigg, the only man. Fowler shares Austen's fascination with the power of stories, and explores the same timeless aspects of human behavior that Austen so masterfully dramatizes, while capturing with anthropological acuity and electrifying humor the oddities of our harried world. Fellow Austenites will love Fowler's fluency in the great novelist's work; every reader will relish Fowler's own ebullient comedy of manners, and who knows how many book clubs will be inspired by this charming paean to books and readers. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
I felt that this book lacked the warmth of the J M Barrie Book Club, to which I had hoped it might compare more favorably. I was tempted to abandon this book before I had finished, but persisted because it was my Book Club's latest read. Incidentally, my Book Club's consensus was much the same as my opinion.
"Each of us has a private Austen." That has got to be one of the best book openings I have read, and it sets the perfect tone for The Jane Austen Book Club. The characters are all described afterwards, and I enjoyed getting to know them moments before we get into the action. I loved the characters! Bernadette, Jocelyn, Allegra, Prudie, Sylvia and Grigg have colorful, multi-dimensional personalities that shine through. There is a lot of humor here. Poor Grigg is the odd one there for being the only male in a Jane Austen discussion group, and so he is constantly picked on for having a male perception of the novels and its characters. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and a novel centered on a book club devoted to her struck me as interesting, and I simply couldn't put this beautiful and literary offering down. Why did it take me so long to read this? It had been on my TBR pile for ages! Karen Joy Fowler is a wonderful author. This is my first Fowler book, and it won't be my last. I haven't seen the film adaptation, but I look forward to watching it, and I hope that the screenwriters and producers have done this beautiful book justice. I cannot recommend The Jane Austen Book Club enough.
In what is a both blindingly original move and yet one that in hindsight seems like such a good idea it is incredible no one has thought of it before, Fowler has organized a fiction, a comedy of manners, around the reading of Austen's six novels. There are six members of the book group, each will host a discussion on a different novel. Her characters are contemporary residents of California's Central Valley near Sacramento: Jocelyn, 50-something, never married, a control freak; her best friend from childhood, Sylvia, devastated in the wake of her husband's departure for a younger woman; Allegra, Sylvia's 30-year-old lesbian daughter, an artist; Prudie, a 28-year-old married high school French teacher; Bernadette, an eccentric 70ish much married woman, currently single; and 40ish Grigg, the only male in the group, unmarried, something of an enigma at first. As the book moves through the conversations about Austen, it sorts out its character's histories and lives, and all the various relationships that shake out. Fowler has lots to say about love and sorrow, and about the culture of the world she portrays-our world--that is as airtight as that which Austen constructed in her books.
There are some genuinely funny moments in this book. A day in Prudie's life at the high school where she works is hilarious and very, very real. Fowler made me feel at home with topical references that I thought were remembered only to me. Austen is incomparable and Fowler knows it, so rather than trying to transplant the early 19th century England to 21st century California or to ghostwrite the 7th major Austen novel, she has taken some lessons and has delivered her own inventive piece of writing with a wonderful voice, in which everything eventually sorts out in a balance Austen would probably approve of (though probably would not be sweet enough to admit). A final bonus: Fowler injects the narrative with fascinating quotes and facts on her muse.
Most recent customer reviews
uld not get interested in the storyline. Did not finish it one of the few books I did not finish.
Men would like novel, and maybe Jane Austen. Mild