(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.

AUTHOR BIO:
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.

Summary:
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
JaneAusten.org
Jane Austen Centre
Britannica

(Review) Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Miss Austen
Publisher and Publication Date: Flatiron Books. April 7, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. Jane Austen spin-off.
Pages: 288.
Source: NetGalley ebook copy. I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen stories.
Rating: Very good.

Amazon. Kindle copy is currently $13.99

Gill Hornby has a Facebook author page but hasn’t posted since 2015. I’ve not found an author webpage.

For a preview of the book visit Austenprose.

Summary:
Cassandra is the surviving sister of Jane Austen. The year is 1840. Cassandra travels to visit family with a mission to find Jane’s personal letters. Cassandra feels the need to protect Jane’s legacy in a positive way.
The time period is 1840, but will back up to the years when Jane Austen was living. Cassandra reflects on the memories of her sister, friend, and confidante.

My Thoughts:
First, I love the cover. I have strong opinions about covers. The front cover is simple, yet delicate and lovely.
I love the story! It’s easy for me to be drawn to a story that focuses on the love and loyalty between sisters. I have two older sisters and we are close. Also, this reminds me of the Austen novel, Sense and Sensibility. I love that story for the same reason: an emphasis on family and sisterhood.
Cassandra is a mature woman (older), and people see her differently. She hears comments made about her age and abilities. I love this perspective. An older woman dealing with physical limitations. An older woman dealing with people who are not always respectful and thoughtful. Her thoughts, feelings, and how she responds is apart of the story and I’m so glad.
Miss Austen reflects on the romantic relationships of Jane and Cassandra. It’s interesting to understand why they made certain decisions. It’s touching to read Cassandra’s grieving over past relationships. She is a quiet, stoic griever.
The older generation versus the younger generation is a strong element in the book. The differences in culture. The differences in how they view and relate to one another.
Miss Austen does not shine an only positive light on any of the Austen characters. They are shown with positive and negative words and behavior. This helps the story be believable, because it gave the characters imperfections.

(Review) The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Volume III by Collins Hemingway

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume III Cover
Publisher and Publication Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. November 4, 2017.
Genre: Fiction. Jane Austen spin-off.
Pages: 338.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: I do not recommend.
Rating: I do not recommend.

Amazon link
The Kindle Unlimited is free.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is Volume III.
Volume I
Volume II

Summary:
The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen’s Saga!
In the moving conclusion to The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends, and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

My Thoughts:
I have many thoughts on this book.
•On pages 5 and 6 there is a list of quotes (18) from readers about the book. I find it odd there are no names after any of them. Why? This doesn’t look good. To include quotes helps to positively represent a book, the quotes need to have the name of who said the words, otherwise, the quotes are invalid.
•The language in the book is not authentic to the time period. The conversations are common, and the words used are a reflection of the modern era.
•Several strong themes and conflicts make for a tiresome story. Some examples: conflict between the parents over how to handle a child’s disability; a mother-in-law who is abusive to the child because of the disability; marriage, and the conflict over lack of sex, weight gain after pregnancy, and whether the weak child should have a Smallpox vaccine; the family business and conflicts in the running of it; war and military life through the eyes of Jane.
•What I disliked was the three times Ashton (Jane’s husband) berated her for what he feels she’s done wrong. In each of these instances, it looks as if Jane Austen is being pushed off her high horse and humbled. Why was so many times necessary? To me this also represents conflicts in the story as well: self-worth, loyalty, and obsession (on the part of her husband.)
•What I disliked was the scene where a horse is shot in the head in the presence of Jane and her husband, Ashton. Blood sprays Jane.
•I feel the disabilities of the characters in the story could have been built on throughout the book. It’s a great theme. I’ve not read books from the Regency period that show how disabilities were handled in a family. This story showed a glimpse.
•Early in the story Jane writes a letter to Mr. Wilberforce. That’s it. No other information is given (a little over one page.) No further story on this. Mr. Wilberforce was a strong historical figure. His character could have made the story rich, because of his tireless work to abolish the slave trade.
•Hemingway includes lengthy letters as a way to tell the story. A snippet from letters is fine. Pages (plural) is not okay. But, it is a tool to tell a story.
•Jane’s perspective and response to viewing battles and wounded. It seems she cared little and so did I.
•I didn’t like the ending. However, the ending paved the way for the books she wrote.

Is this story believable? No.
Is this story one a reader can be swept up in? No.
Is the story true to the character of Jane Austen? No.