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The Jane Austen Book Club (CD): Karen Joy Fowler

3.01 of 5 stars 3.01  ·  rating details  ·  45,581 ratings  ·  3,101 reviews
Six people five women and a man meet once a month in California's Central Valley to discuss Jane Austen's novels. They are ordinary people, neither happy nor unhappy, but each of them is wounded in different ways, they are all mixed up about their lives and relationships. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become sui ...more
Audio CD, 4 pages
Published October 6th 2005 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Laura
I’m convinced the first thing Jane Austen is going to do on the Day of Resurrection is hire a lawyer and sue the philistines who have commandeered her name and characters. However, this book is beneath her notice. A more clichéd combination of unfulfilled women could hardly be conceived: a middle-aged woman who’s just been left by her husband; her lesbian daughter who falls easily and unhappily in love; a spinster who breeds dogs; a dissatisfied French teacher in an unhappy marriage; and finally ...more
Beth
I really didn't get into the book. In fact, by about the middle of the book, I felt that the only reason "Jane Austen" shows up in the title--or the book--at all, was because the author knew people like Jane Austen, therefore will buy the book. The book really could've been about any author--Dickens, the Brontes, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald--with the same results. The ties to the Austen books, in my opinion, are tenuous at best. If the title and the book club were not tied to Jane Austen, the referen ...more
Katharine
I can’t decide how successful this novel actually was, in storytelling. On the one hand, I genuinely liked all the characters. On the other hand, a good two-thirds of the book is spent in telling backstory. As a way to describe character and motivation, it’s an interesting technique, and kept my attention despite all the narration. On the other hand, there’s very little real-time interaction between the characters. Although what interaction there is, plays out beautifully and believably, it’s al ...more
Amanda
I just finished The Jane Austen Book Club. So good. I'm craving Jane Austen now. I just want to go through each novel in order. I just might. I can't decide. I am a quite reliable multi-tasker...

If you love Jane Austen, I think you will really appreciate the book. Even if you don't love Jane Austen, I think you will appreciate the book and maybe come to appreciate Jane Austen more.

It was really good. Four Hello Kittys.

My favorite Jane Austen book is Pride and Prejudice. I heart Lizzy Bennet and
...more
Laura
I was perusing movie trailers on my Mac last weekend and saw a cute title/trailer called The Jane Austen Book Club. The end of trailer announced, "Based on the best selling novel, The Jane Austen Book Club." I thought it would be fun to check out the book since I almost never see a movie until I can watch it via Netflix.

I had hoped it would be a kind of "fun" read, especially since I am a Jane-ite. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't much fun. I actually found it a little tedious and the jumping aro
...more
Dana Kenedy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sherwood Smith
I do love Fowler's work. But I have to say I found this book a disappointment.

The story concerns the members of a Jane Austen book club--five women and one man--who meet to discuss the books. The structure is thus roughly divided into six months, and each month one of the people leads the discussion while Fowler interweaves that person's life story into the discussion, often punctuated by quotes from Austen's books. The prose is good, with a few eye-blinks (My favorite line, from the Jocelyn sec
...more
Chanda
I rate everything four or five stars. Probably because if I don't like a book, it somehow never gets finished. I'm usually reading four or five things at once, switching back and forth as different moods strike me, unless of course I get drawn deeply into a story and don't want to leave.

Such was the case here. I adored this book. It seemed like such a pat premise, but then was full of such depth, such a surprising understanding and interpretation of Austen (and Heinlein, Le Guin, the Bronte sist
...more
Dawn Michelle
Aug 29, 2008 Dawn Michelle rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one, especially Jane Austen fans
Recommended to Dawn Michelle by: Saw it in a bookstore and bought it for the husband
This book was really a disappointment to me. After all the hype I thought this would be a really great book. And its not. Its an ok book, but not a great book.
If you are looking for a great book about friends and book clubs, then you should read "Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons: A Novel (by Lorna Landvik). That is so funny and sad and poignant and touching. Everything this book was not.
My husband is reading this book as well(He is a TRUE Jane Austen fan) and he asked me last night if ALL women
...more
Suzanne
I bought this in a train station with the deliberate aim of reading a puff book. I was not expecting a masterpiece, but this was absolute crap. I kept reading on the off chance that it might improve– it did not. The only redeeming quality of this book is that it is a really fast read (since it's fluff).
Dorian
I've a notion someone told me this was a good book. They must have very different "good book" criteria from mine. I wasn't a bit impressed with it. It read to me like a chick-lit novel that was trying to be all Literary and Intellectual (and failing miserably).

I might have quite liked to have read an unashamed chick-lit novel about some or all of the characters. But this book kept interrupting the interesting bits-about-the-characters (which were, in any case, flashbacks) with random not-very-in
...more
Blaire
I kept looking for fairly literal parallels in each chapter between the book under review and the character with which it was associated. Not a very rewarding approach, although I did find some. Instead, I took this book as an implicit homage to Austen. A gently satirical portrayal of a group of characters bound partly, but not entirely, by a love of Austen's novels. It's all about character; not plot. Not that much actually happens during the course of the book. Nevertheless, we learn a lot abo ...more
Destinee Sutton
I've read the (very) negative reviews of this (there are many) and I have to say, I think a lot of people just didn't get this book. They wanted it to be plot-driven and fun (as so many Austen take-offs are), but this book is much more character-driven and contemplative. I learned a lot about Jane Austen from it (especially from the back matter) and it was a great way to continue to explore her work. It's also so gratifying for me to read about people who live for and through literature. The cha ...more
Shafitri
Well, I'm very disappointed with this book... I had known before I read it that this book wouldn't be all about Jane Austen, but rather of the lives of the members of Jane Austen book club. However, the thing that disappoints me so much is that this book seemed to only use the name "Jane Austen" to make her fans interested and want to read the book... Well, I kinda feel tricked into reading it actually =)

Well,at first i was quite satisfied with the beginning... because it argues about Jane Auste
...more
E. Amato
I love Jane Austen. I find this book very close to awful, yet not close enough to be interesting. Is this what women read? Is this chick lit? Women's fiction? All the women are unlikeable stereotypes - boring ones, at that. The men are sexless addenda to domestic life. They inhabit a white-people problems world that is so superficial as to be maudlin. It feels written through the veil of anti-depressants or between runs to Costco - or both. I don't think I'll be able to finish it. I'm not even s ...more
Nidah (SleepDreamWrite)
My sister and I were at the library and picked up some movies to watch. One of them being the Jane Austen Book Club. Since we both liked the movies, this sounded cute.

I thought it was okay, not bad or anything but has its moments. Then I pondered whether to read the book or not. Finally, finally when it was on the shelf, I wasn't going to get it, then was like, you know right? Its not that long, so why not see how it compares to the film?

And with that, I thought the movie was a little better. L
...more
Claudia
Eeeeegaaaads....

I love Jane Austen, so it's hard to claim I'm not terribly... shall we say... "girlie"? Still, I've not been one to join the bandwagon about such chick flicks that are often described as tear jerkers. I tried this book. Really, I did.

I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with it, the writing is good enough, but I can’t seem to get excited about it in the least bit. It’s a whole 175 pages long, which means I should have gotten through it in a couple of sittings. Instead, I’m still
...more
Lesley
The Jane Austen Book Club is an international best seller which ultimately became a successful film in 2007. I brought my edition late in 2004 and shamefully only just got around to reading it this week.

I picked this up thinking it would be great but like any best seller there were quite a few negative reviews floating around at the time, dispelling all the good press it had received. I stupidly got put off and left it to languish on my bookcase.

I thought about reading it when I saw that a film
...more
Kay
There are few books I would call elegant - this is one of them.

I was more than pleasantly surprised by the constructed simplicity of The Jane Austen Book Club. I had seen the movie - which was perfectly enjoyable - and had taken a look at the chick-lit cover, and thought I would be in for a very light-hearted read.

While the book is not a tale of doom and destruction, it is far from simplistic. Joy Fowley manages to fit so much character and emotion into the small novel. We see the characters on
...more
Lize
Lovely book in the Maeve Binchy vein about five women and one man who get together to discuss the works of Austen. The kind of book club I've always wanted to be a part of. Well-developed characters, and mined with great quotes:

"It's hard to capture a dog's personality in a photograph; dogs suffer more from the flattening than people do, or cats even. Birds photograph well becuase their spirits are so guarded."

"You could see that she worked with her hands. Her nails were short, and the skin a
...more
James
Mar 28, 2008 James rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Austenites
A well written novel that ends up flat. Fowler does a great job of taking the things she loves about Austen and putting them in her book. I have to say though if you haven't read Austen some of the subtleties may go unnotoiced. Her biggest problem was having characters that were linear in their development. If done well it isn't a problem, but her characters felt like they were playing a part in each chapter rather than growing throughout the book. I have to say I felt connected to Grigg because ...more
Caroline
I approached this novel with a little trepidation because I love Austen, and I hate when people are *wrong* about Austen (that's a semi-ironic 'wrong'; what I really mean is that my opinions about Austen are deeply-held and tend to send me on rants) -- so I was worried that this book was just going to use Austen as an excuse to tell a silly modern-day love story about annoying shallow people.

But! It's really not like that at all. This is a book about people who love reading and love talking abou
...more
Nikki
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler... not utterly terrible, but not very good, either, in my opinion. The main thing that stuck out to me, throughout, was that the narrator was weird and the narrative jumped about in the most irritating way. It wasn't just that there were flashbacks -- I don't mind those, deployed correctly -- but there were flashbacks and then there were chapters in the present. And the narrator seemed to be a member of the book club, but an unnamed, invisible one. A ...more
Amanda
Karen Joy Fowler tried to do a lot with this book. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. The concept is great, but the characters are lacking. Men are portrayed in a very bad light that eventually just becomes depressing. Many of the chapters, taken by themselves, however, are very good. I enjoyed Prudie's story, but wished there was more to it.

My biggest pet peeve: POV! It is third person omniscient, but uses "we" as if the narrator/ reader is part of the book club, but the narrator is never given a
...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was a pretty ordinary book. I read it some months after seeing the movie and it is distinguished by being one of the few books I have ever read where the movie was superior. This is especially damming when one considers that I found the movie a very light chick flick.

One indication of a good book/ good author is when, after a single quick sketch of character you then instantly recognise a character as soon as they appear in the narrative. In this book the opposite occurs and a third in I st
...more
Rikke
Don't let the title fool you; this isn't really a book about Jane Austen. In fact, Jane Austen and her novels only serve as the structural frame for this story; the outlining that allows the characters to meet, to interact - and the glue that binds the plot together. The core of this novel is really just the six book club members, their separate lives and their joined meetings. This is a story of widely different people, their outlook on life, their actions and their interactions.
As the story un
...more
Jamie Gough
I read this book when I was awake late at night with our newborn son, so my ability to focus and follow any existing themes was definitely hindered!

That being said, I really enjoyed the way that the book is laid out: Each chapter is dedicated to a different Jane Austen novel and a character from the novel’s book club. So, for example, one chapter focuses on Austen’s Mansfield Park and the character Grigg, the only man in the book club. I’ve read most of the Austen novels discussed in this book,
...more
Josie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen
Jun 12, 2008 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans, especially those who are in or have been in a book club.
A celebration of Jane Mania! Nothing here to change the world, but I did enjoy this book--especially as I'm in the midst of watching the on-going Materpiece Theater series of productions of Jane Austen's books. Reading this book made me want to read the two Austen novels I've never read, Emma and Northanger Abbey. You don't have to have read all the Austen novels to enjoy Fowler's story (there are plot synopses w/spoilers of Austen's books at the back for reference) but I think you should have a ...more
Siria
Brace yourself, Trin: I actually did not hate this. I expected, especially given the terribly pastel cover, that reading this would induce a facial tic—however, there was just enough dry humour and nicely observed character interaction to win me over. There was even one point—about The Mysteries of Udolpho—which made me grin. Grigg's section of the book was perhaps my favourite—I liked Fowler's inversion of things so that his sisters were the heroes and he the heroine.

However ("Ha!", I can hea
...more
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  • Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure
  • Emma & Knightley: The Sequel to Jane Austen's Emma
  • Jane Austen Ruined My Life
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  • The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
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  • A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter
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  • The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice: A Modern Love Story with a Jane Austen Twist (The Woods Hole Quartet #1)
  • What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved
  • Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World
  • The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World
  • Pemberley Shades: A Lightly Gothic Tale of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy
  • Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed
1448
I was born in Bloomington, Indiana. I was due on Valentine's Day but arrived a week early; my mother blamed this on a really exciting IU basketball game. My father was a psychologist at the University, but not that kind of psychologist. He studied animal behavior, and especially learning. He ran rats through mazes. My mother was a polio survivor, a schoolteacher, and a pioneer in the co-operative ...more
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“Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you.” 82 likes
“I once broke up with a boy because he wrote me an awful poem.” 56 likes
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