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The Jane Austen Book Club [Paperback]

Karen Joy Fowler
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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We sat in a circle on Jocelyn's screened porch at dusk, drinking cold sun tea, surrounded by the smell of her twelve acres of fresh-mowed California grass. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Will Love It May 9 2005
I am a big fan of this book. So if you are looking for a negative review, you can stop reading now. "Jane Austen Book Club" is artistic and creative, one of the best books I have read in recent years. So if you enjoy well written, easily absorbed fiction like "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," "About a Boy," "Wicked," "The Curious Incident of Dog in Night-Time," "The Time Traveler's Wife," and "My Fractured Life," then you will love this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's always risky... Feb. 27 2009
By Schmadrian TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback read the novel before seeing the film adaptation. Because usually, the comparison does the movie no favours. However, as I've learned here, sometimes there's a greater risk to seeing the film first.

As much as this is meant to be a review of the novel, the truth is that having seen the film, my view of the book is informed in so very starkly a way that I fear I cannot offer up as objective opinion as I otherwise might have.

As a screenwriter/novelist, I'm always fascinated to see how the migration from one medium to the other is achieved, and to what extent it's successful. In the case of 'The Jane Austen Book Club', one thing was consistently apparent: the adaptation succeeded marvellously. In fact, in many ways, the film is a far more satisfying experience.

But allow me to clarify.

Firstly, I have no history, no relationship with Austen's novels. I've read not a one. So clearly, what Fowler waves through her story Austen-wise, was lost on me. Not that I couldn't appreciate that she was clearly a lover of Austen's works and had fashioned a tale as an homage to the writer. I'm sure that a fan of Austen's books would have added many a satisfaction-point onto their final score. But I suppose what struck me most in this sense was the fact that the movie seemed to do a far better job of utilizing the themes and characters than the novel does.

Secondly, while the film is focused, the novel is...well, a lot more of a riff. And perhaps this can be chalked up mostly to the narrator's voice. In the film, it's a typical 'third-person omniscient'. In the book- Well, I still can't figure out why Fowler decided to tell it in first-person omniscient...and then, never really declare that it's being told by Bernadette.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's not actually ABOUT Jane Austen, folks Jan. 10 2005
Anything with an unusual premise grabs my attention--you know, something that not only has a good idea going for it but a great author to carry thought with the exectution? Enter JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB. If you go into this little romp thinking that it's going to be all JANE with various tangents thereof, think again. The book is really about the members of the book club, and many of them are fascinating. The title is really not misleading when you think about it--the same way Jackson McCrae's "Bark of the Dogwood--A tour of southern homes and gardens" isn't really about a "tour." But all that's for another discussion. Bottomline is this: JANE AUSTEN is a great read and will probably be enjoyed all the more by REAL book clubs.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time July 19 2004
This may well have been the worst book I ever read. The premise is interesting, and it could have been a great book, but Fowler's writing style is obnoxious. Her incorrect overuse of commas makes the book difficult to read. Her third person/first person game is annoying as well. Did anyone edit this book? The authors who attached their names to the blurbs must have owed Fowler a favor. Quite often the publisher writes the blurbs, and the author's select the one to which their name will be attached. They may have not even read the book, just a synopsis. I think the publisher and the author knew that a book with Jane Austen in the title would sell, and they didn't care much about the quality of the book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Jane Austen WASP club July 18 2004
I've had some extra time this summer to catch up on some reading. I've even been able to explore some of the newer books that are out and with all the reviews I've read here and the ads that are blarin all over the place, surely, I thought this would be a good one. Maybe I'm not exactly up on Austen--I realize this could be the problem--but the story and its characters didn't fulfill. I liked "The Secret Life of Bees" (and that is a bit corny) better only because, at least, the writer aimed to entertain and to give us a story and a bit of the "brown suger". Sorry, but this book pales (pun not intended) next to "Simon Lazarus". It's a totally different book from this, true, but readers will be delighted, fulfilled, and yes, perhaps, enlightened. Now THAT book's a winner. And deserves so much more praise than this--I'm sorry. And as far as that WASP, Alice Sebold--she can eat this all she wants--honey, I read that very WHITE chick's book and after the first 125 pages (which were actually good!)--it was all downhill in a Presbyterian handbasket!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Alice Sebold got it right July 13 2004
Alice Sebold states that if she could "eat this book," she would. I found the concept of the book, the manner in which it was told (snapshots of characters' pasts that translated into explanations of their idiosynchratic behaviours), and the power of the relationships very real. I have not read Jane Austen's novels in over twelve years (although I have read them all), and I have also participated in group and scholarly debate about them all. The book, however, was less about Jane Austen, I thought, and more about perspective, understanding, prejudice, persuasion, pride, irony, acceptance, and tolerance. I am going to loan this book out to a number of my friends who I believe will appreciate it, even if not in the same way that I did.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
While seemingly simple on the surface, THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB is not. Five women and one man make up the main characters in this riveting and cleverly plotted gem. Read more
Published on July 24 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning to Jane Austen fans
Published on July 19 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable for Austen Fans but...
I have to admit: I enjoyed this book tremendously and I went back and reread favorite sections. However, I am a Jane Austen devotee and I am always interested in the opinion of... Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by crazyforgems
5.0 out of 5 stars "We" is "I"
When, on page 5 of this delightful, ironic homage to Jane Austen, the narrator lists the "six of us" -- the six members of "The Jane Austen Book Club" -- the reader should... Read more
Published on July 10 2004 by rctnyc
4.0 out of 5 stars A recommendation
My sister-in-law recently recommended two books and I found both to be superb novels. The first was a book by the title "The Bark of the Dogwood" (funny, horrifying, and... Read more
Published on July 8 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
If you want to read Austen buy Pride and Prejudice not this book. TJABC is long on slapstick and short on things Austen. It pales in comparison to Austen's razor wit.
Published on July 7 2004 by Kimberly Gardner
1.0 out of 5 stars Hook, line, and sinker
Yes, I too was lured in by the many sterling reveiws on the cover of this book. The old adage of not judging a book by its cover holds true for this one. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by Eulogia
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