Publisher and Publication Date: St Martin’s Press. May 26, 2020.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, General Fiction, Austenesque.
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.
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.
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:
*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.
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.