Laura's Reviews > The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
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's review
Jun 11, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: best-seller

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, the six-times divorced earth mother who brings them all together for six months of Jane Austen book clubbing. They’re joined by some computer guy named Grigg, if that’s even a name, who probably was supposed to add a bit of male perspective and — surprise! — a love interest, but the book is so poorly written that he’s virtually indiscernible from the women. Their “discussions” are banal, the correspondence to their personal lives contrived, and the characters themselves both irritating and supremely boring, which I suppose must be some sort of an accomplishment. Normally I like reading about losers and rejects (A Confederacy of Dunces, my journals), but these people and their self-created angst grated on my nerves. I borrowed this on cd from the library and found myself skipping ahead because I simply couldn’t take any more of their inane conversations. And, I'm shocked — shocked! — to report that skipping parts of the story didn't really detract from its overall flow.

Confession: Embarrassingly enough, I did watch the movie on dvd because it stars that dreamy Hugh Dancy (who, tragically, looks about half my age and body mass) and the movie was not nearly as bad as the book – extremely chick-flicky, but not downright dreadful.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
June 11, 2008 – Shelved
February 21, 2011 – Shelved as: best-seller

Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura I agree! I hated it too!

Jennifer I wondered if the movie would be better than the book - Although - it couldn't have been much worse.

message 3: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Have you seen the movie yet, J?

Jennifer Nope. The book was so bad I never wanted to see the movie. Now I am thinking it might not be too bad. Have you?

message 5: by Tammy (new)

Tammy No. I've been curious, but not brave enough to take that first step. And I'm a big movie buff too!

Jennifer If you see it let me know what you think.

message 7: by Manny (new)

Manny You confirmed my worst suspicions. Thank you! And very amusing as well :)

message 8: by David (new)

David Laura: I don't know why I've only noticed your reviews recently. But they sure as hell rock!

message 9: by Dana (new) - rated it 1 star

Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books) I could not agree more. I have not seen the movie, but I believe that this may be one of the rare cases where the film is much better than the book.

Your review was great and *so* accurate!

message 10: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Thanks! It is kind of weird when a film is better than a book -- sort of a disruption of the natural order -- but this is one of those cases. Not that the movie was any great shakes, but in this case just having people to look at was an improvement on the original.

message 11: by Jeslyn (new)

Jeslyn I think I actually let out a GUFFAW when I got to the point in your review where you referenced your slay me!

Lesley Thurling Thank goodness- I thought I was the only one having trouble with this book! Just can't get into it.

message 13: by Jody (new) - added it

Jody This review is awesome. You are an excellent writer, and I think I might read your reviews of books before I buy them. Well done.

Jeannie This is an awesome review. I am only reading this book because a friend of mine has lent it to me. But when she handed it to me it was with the disclaimer that it is one of those rare cases where the movie is actually better than the book. I am only on page 13, but I don't think I can go any further and would consider renting it-- accept for the fact I heard they pulled it from the local video store for lack of popularity.

What I hate the most is the anonymous "we" narrator, this "we" who speaks as if they are a member of the book club, though we know there are only 6 members. Totally annoying. And as Laura says, is Grigg even a name???? Come on, of all the guy names in the world who picks Grigg???? I wonder if they changed his name for the movie.

Laura I hope I see more of your reviews. You are an excellent writer!

message 15: by Shanna (new)

Shanna I saw the movie, and just saw that it was a book. I thought the movie was cute which was why I was curious about the book, but seeing all this has changed my mind in reading it. I'll just stick with the movie then :)

message 16: by Effy (last edited Apr 20, 2012 02:34PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Effy Your review, others, and the average rating scared me from buying the book. I wanted to read the book because the movie isn't half bad, but the book rating tells me not to waste my money. But I saw a copy for 1 dollar, and I hope that the dollar was well spent, from what all of you are saying. Can you tell me I didn't waste a dollar? I could have bought a dollar pizza slice at Two Bros. ---I won't get to the book until February or March.

message 17: by Hollie (new)

Hollie Laura, I'm glad I came across your reviews because, quite frankly, you're hilarious. Thanks for the insight (and the great writing).

message 18: by Elisa (new)

Elisa I started reading this but then when it began with a Jocelyn back story where she has a brief encounter and it involves fingers, I gave up. What's insulting is the description on here that JA would have wrote this herself in the 21st century, come again?!

Jaiel The book makes me not want to read jane austen. They make her seem stupid and a little flight

message 20: by Dania (new) - added it

Dania I happen to love the movie, it was and is my chick-flick... But reading this reviews make me rethinking paying 9$ to download it... Maybe i should borrow it instead... But like movie reviews, i tend to ignore because they are never true, im going with my gut and give this book a try...

message 21: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Riggs You know, I rather enjoyed it, just for fun. But I enjoyed your scathing review much more, and I can definitely see your point.

Jeannie One of the few cases where the movie was so much better than the book! HATE this book! Your review is right on.

Kathryn Meakin Great review... I concur ;)

Linda I agree. The movie was better.

message 25: by Jamie (new)

Jamie "my journals" ha. :)

message 26: by JennaL (new)

JennaL Without a doubt "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." has got to be one of the best opening sentences I've read in quite a while. And I mean that across all platforms - reviews, books, magazine article etc. If you aren't a writer yet, please set down whatever you had on your reading list next and pick up a pen (or turn on your computer) because you have a gift. Too bad K Fowler failed to grab her readers the same way.

Christine Way I wish I would have read your review before buying this book, whiched I also did not like.

message 28: by Ko (new) - rated it 1 star

Ko I would write a review of this book myself, but why bother when you've said it all?

Carol Clouds ꧁꧂ I have a bunch of books I'm not going to get to - this one is now going on to my op (charity) shop pile. I'm not a big fan of most chick lit or austenesque books anyway. Very enjoyable review!

Lyndsey Wheeler I'm about two thirds of the way through the book and the only thing keeping me going is pure stubbornness. Your review says it all.

Lauranne Couldn't agree with you more. It took me three attempts to get through the book as I kept putting it down for months at a time and then having to start from the beginning again. I shouldn't have bothered it was really poor

message 32: by Jo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jo I wish I could give this review five stars. The first sentence alone is perfection!

message 33: by Ebookwormy1 (new)

Ebookwormy1 In honor of 200 years TODAY since Jane Austen's death, I am sharing YOUR review on my twitter feed as my favorite review of Austentrash EVER!

Andrea I picked up this book at a library book sale and couldn't get past the prologue.

message 35: by Bria (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bria Chaffin My thoughts exactly! I'm thinking I was too generous with my rating.

message 36: by Sally (new)

Sally Holman I love this book. And I love the movie too. I watch it several times a year, it's a favourite. Yes it's formulaic, sentimentAl but it's very enjoyable.

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