Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

I had the chance to read this for a short time on my e-reader, so I had to hop to it! At first I was a little worried I wouldn't like it, but the story got under my skin and I absolutely loved it and was sorry to finish and say goodbye to the story. 

The Jane Austen Society takes place shortly after World War 2 in the small village of Chawton, England; an unlikely mix of people come together over their love of Jane Austen's novels. Dr. Grey, a widower who is beloved by the village, but secretly still held back by his grief seven years after his wife's accidental death; Adeline, the charismatic school teacher who lost her husband during the war and is expecting a child; Frances, the heir to the great Knightly estate after the death of her emotionally cold and distant father. There's also Andrew, a lawyer to Frances' father and, once long ago, in love with Frances. There are more characters, and they all play a part in a plot that slowly reveals the dynamics between all the characters. 

There is not much action, and that is just fine. I was thoroughly engaged in the play between all of the characters, as they draw together to start the Jane Austen Society. Jane had lived in Chawton for ten years, and wrote her last three novels at her brother's estate, where Frances is the last Knightly and direct descendant of Jane's brother. Each of the characters absolutely love Jane's works--some find Emma their favorite, while others are firmly in the Pride and Prejudice camp. But all of them adore Jane Austen, and want to create a place for other fans who travel to Chawton in search of Jane's last home. 

So a novel about Jane Austen that definitely has the feel of a Jane Austen novel, with unrequited love, misunderstandings, the local gossip, the charming cad, and everyone just looking for happiness in the aftermath of a war that devastated a country and left a lot of wounded souls. What a charming novel. I am so very glad I had the chance to read it, and didn't give up early on. It is definitely worth taking the time to linger, and I'm sure you will be tempted to reread some of Jane's works. The cast of characters are delightful, and I couldn't help but cheer them all on towards their particular happy endings. 

Rating: 5/6 for a sweet and gentle read that really nails the hard work of developing not just one character, but multiple characters. Once I moved past the first 50 pages, I was hooked, and you will be, too. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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