Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (audio/print)


Title: The Jane Austen Society
Author: Natalie Jenner
Narrator: Richard Armitage
Published: May 2020, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 9 hours 55 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Audio - ALC via Libro.fm / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher

Summary:

"Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal." —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
 
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.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

My thoughts:  As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I love Pride and Prejudice - it is the one classic I have read multiple times, and while I have not read all of Jane Austen's other books, I do own all of them and do plan on reading them at some point.

I really enjoyed this book. It was so charming and I loved the simple message it delivers - that books have a way of feeding our souls. This motley group of characters that we meet all come together for one reason - they love Jane Austen and want to preserve her legacy. They couldn't be more different from each other, but the one thing unites them is their love of this one author and they are willing to do just about anything to keep her legacy from disappearing.

This is a book that I will certainly be coming back to as I read the rest of my Jane Austen books as her novels are referenced quite often. Would I have gotten more out of this book if I had already read all of Jane Austen's books - possibly but I still enjoyed it and now I am more determined to read the ones I have not. I loved listening to the characters talk about their favorite passages and discuss Jane's life and how their own lives are quite like the character's lives. It was quite cleverly done and just pulled me in deeper and deeper.

If you are an Austen fan, this book is for you. If you like the book-within-a-book format, this book is for you. It's such a fitting book to be coming out right now as so many of us are turning to books for comfort and whether that is the classics or rom-coms or thrillers, I think it shows the power of books and how reading can bring people together and help them understand themselves and others.
 

Audio thoughts: I had the opportunity to listen to this and it was so enjoyable. I alternated between listening and reading and I just loved it. Richard Armitage has such a lovely voice and it was so soothing to listen to. He did a great job with all the characters - there are eight which is a lot to keep track of, but he made it easy! He had a great cadence for this book and I really enjoyed it. 


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1 comment

  1. Another charming spin off and one I'd love to read. Thanks for the review.

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