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The Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0399151613 Global Overview for this book
Registered by serrapixie of Metairie, Louisiana USA on 10/13/2004
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by serrapixie from Metairie, Louisiana USA on Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Fowler's fifth novel (after PEN/Faulkner award finalist Sister Noon) features her trademark sly wit, quirky characters and digressive storytelling, but with a difference: this one is book clubâ€"ready, complete with mock-serious "questions for discussion" posed by the characters themselves. The plot here is deceptively slim: five women and one enigmatic man meet on a monthly basis to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, one at a time. As they debate Marianne's marriage to Brandon and whether or not Charlotte Lucas is gay, they reveal nothing so much as their own "private Austen(s)": to Jocelyn, an unmarried "control freak," the author is the consummate matchmaker; to solitary Prudie, she's the supreme ironist; to the lesbian Allegra, she's the disingenuous defender of the social caste system, etc. The book club's conversation is variously astute, petty, obvious and funny, but no one stays with it: the characters nibble high-calorie desserts, sip margaritas and drift off into personal reveries. Like Austen, Fowler is a subversive wit and a wise observer of human interaction of all stripes ("All parents wanted an impossible life for their childrenâ€"happy beginning, happy middle, happy ending. No plot of any kind"). She's also an enthusiastic consumer of popular culture, offsetting the heady literary chat with references to Sex and the City, Linux and "a rug that many of us recognized from the Sundance catalog." Though the 21 pages of quotations from Austen's family, friends and critics seems excessive, the novelty of Fowler's package should attract significant numbers of book club members, not to mention the legions of Janeites craving good company and happy endings.
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From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com

Five women and one man meet periodically to discuss the work of (arguably) the greatest novelist in English. Six people, one for each Jane Austen title. It is California, a hot summer in the Central Valley early in the 21st century, and these are ordinary people, neither happy nor unhappy, but each of them hurting in different ways, all of them mixed up about love.

Sylvia's husband, Daniel, has left her after 32 years and three children. Jocelyn, her best friend, never married and now focuses...
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Book Description
A sublime comedy of contemporary manners, this is the novel Jane Austen might well have written had she lived in twenty-first- century California.

Nothing ever moves in a straight line in Karen Joy Fowler's fiction, and in her latest, the complex dance of modern love has never been so devious or so much fun.

Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her finely sighted eye for the frailties of human behavior and her finely tuned ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

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