(Review) The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Publisher and Publication Date: St Martin’s Press. May 26, 2020.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, General Fiction, Austenesque.
Pages: 320.
Source: NetGalley eBook copy. I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley, and through the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.

The Jane Austen Society is available in hardcover, Kindle, audio CD, and audiobook.

Amazon link
Barnes and Noble

The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014). The combination of Jenner’s marvelous prose and Armitage’s velvet voice is just sublime.

For another review and to listen to an excerpt: Austenprose.

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of The Jane Austen Society, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.
Website for Natalie Jenner.

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 am a Jane Austen fan. I’ve enjoyed reading all her novels. My favorite is Sense and Sensibility. Many of her fans state Pride and Prejudice is their favorite. Not me. I love the story but it’s not my favorite.
Are you a Jane Austen fan? Is there a particular book of Austen’s that is a favorite?

In The Jane Austen Society, the cast of characters represent people from different walks of life: male and female, different ages, English and American, varying types of education and profession, modest income and wealthy. This is the first reason why I love this story. The Jane Austen Society is a group of different individuals who come together for a common goal.

Other reasons why I love this story:
*Descriptive story-telling.
*A male character who has an easy to dismiss role, but he is important to the story. His role is different than other male book characters I’ve read in other stories. He’s subtle and understated. His background story is touching and memorable. For me, he holds a balance for the story. He is neither profound because of star qualities and heroic abilities, nor is he insignificant and trifle. He is actually endearing. And, his person and life develops.
*I enjoyed reading how the characters felt about the history of Chawton (the town where Jane Austen lived.) How they felt about the fans that came often to “sight-see.” How they felt about the Knight family who dwell in Chawton House. How they feel about one another; and what they think they know.
*The majority of the story is post World War II. However, the story backs up to a behind the scenes story of World War I, the childhood of some of the characters, and the Great Depression years.
*I’ve read remarks from reviewers about the Hollywood starlet, Mimi Harrison. I feel she has a part to play in this story. She’s the American who adores Jane Austen. She has a part to play in how The Jane Austen Society is able to complete a goal. She represents the outer world. A world away from this small village, but she loves Jane Austen too.
*I have favorites in the story. One of my favorites is not Mimi, but Adam Berwick. I also like Adeline Lewis and Frances Knight.

Final Thoughts:
The Jane Austen Society is not a story with huge sweeping romantic stories. It is closer to everyday life. It is down-to-earth.
It’s possible that you are a reader who needs plenty of action and oomph! This is not that kind of book. However, I love this story. I enjoyed reading it.

Other links of interest:
Jane Austen’s House
Chawton House
Jane Austen Centre

(Review) Sanditon by Jane Austen and Kate Riordan


Publisher and Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Austenesque.
Pages: 400.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.

Based on Andrew Davies’ tv adaption/continuation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel written in 1817.
As seen on Masterpiece PBS, premiered January 12, 2020.

The foreword is written by Andrew Davies. He is a Welsh author of screenplays and books. He has adapted several books to film. For example: Pride and Prejudice (1995), Vanity Fair (1998), and War and Peace (2016), Sanditon (2020).

Link for more information at the publisher

Link at Amazon

Link at Barnes and Noble

Author Info: 
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an
editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor
for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had
assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in
London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly)
during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer,
she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her
first novel.

In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished
masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a
spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series.
Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the
joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky
relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker.
When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to
the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the
intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters
whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the
plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London,
exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover
herself… and ultimately find love.

My Thoughts:
I first want to say how excited I am to be apart of the book tour for Sanditon. I enjoyed reading the book, rereading (multiple times) the original chapters Jane Austen wrote, The World of Sanditon by Sara Sheridan, and watching the PBS Masterpiece series Sanditon.
The original writing of Sanditon by Jane Austen is twelve chapters. She began writing in January 1817, and stopped writing March 18, 1817. She died July 18, 1817. The manuscript she wrote was not only unfinished, but had not shown enough material to understand the full direction she intended the story to take. It is a guess. She was sick during the writing. Health is a theme in the original manuscript. The book presents Austen’s first character of another race. She is described in the original writing as a West Indian heiress in poor health. The story shows a modern attitude that previous writings did not. However, Jane Austen did not finish the story, and it’s only a guess about how we think the book would progress and end.
I consider the original writing of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, as an outline for the tv adaption and book. In the book by Kate Riordan, it does not follow the exact manuscript of Austen’s. Austen’s has been used as an outline. And this current book is an adaption. I was constantly aware during the reading of the current book of the differences between what had been written by Austen and the changes in the new book. I had to finally place that developing attitude aside and enjoy the adaption.
The story begins in 1819. The main character is Charlotte Heywood. She is the oldest child in a large family. She is in her late teens. They are country people. Charlotte is a personality that I cherish. She is responsible, kind, quick to help others, observant, and a bit restless for adventure. A chance encounter gives her an opportunity to leave the home and area she’d known, and experience another type of life. Through her eyes, I too experienced the adventure. She has another character trait: speaking her mind. At times, this causes people to be offended. But, I believe this makes her well-rounded, imperfect, and believable. Characters shouldn’t be too perfect!
Other characters have sharp contrasts to the likable Charlotte. They are the wealthy Lady Denham. She also speaks her mind. Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. Both of them are calculating.
Other characters like the Parker family are the benefactor of Charlotte’s travel and lodging during her visit to Sanditon. Sidney Parker is the person who Charlotte either likes or dislikes depending on their conversations. He perplexes her.
Georgiana Lambe is the wealthy West Indian heiress. She is another favorite character.
Primarily because she seems sad and I want her to be happy.
The story is strong in characters that leap off the pages and that is a plus for me.
I especially enjoyed reading the thoughts behind the characters that the tv adaption does not reveal.
I love the developing story that showed me the plight of several characters. Health is not a big plot like in the original Austen manuscript. Money and status is a big theme.
The conflicts in the story are conflicts that people of any era relate. For example, betrayal and ambition.
The book ends with the wish (on my part) for more of the story.