Hello readers! I’m excited to be part of virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel and to be one of the Seventy-five popular blogs and websites participating in this biggest tour. Check out book details and my reviews of this historical fiction novel in this post. Many thanks to Laurel @austenprose for tour invite and publisher providing review copy.
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Publication Date : May 26th 2020
Publisher : St. Martin’s Press
Genre : Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, General Fiction, Austenesque
Pages : 320
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.
- An Amazon Best Book of May 2020
- One of Goodreads Big Books of Spring & Hot Books of Summer
- One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
- June 2020 Indie Next Pick
- May 2020 Library Reads Pick
- Starred Review – Library Journal
- Starred Review – Booklist
AUDIOBOOK NARRATED BY ACTOR RICHARD ARMITAGE:
The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).
Link to YouTube audiobook excerpt: https://youtu.be/OJ1ACJluRi8
“Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner’s first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships…Readers won’t need previous knowledge of Austen and her novels to enjoy this tale’s slow revealing of secrets that build to a satisfying and dramatic ending.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Few things draw disparate people together so quickly as discovering they love the same writers. Few writers cement such friendships as deeply as Austen does. I believe that the readers of Jenner’s book will fall in love with the readers inside Jenner’s book, all of us thinking and dreaming of Austen the whole while. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what! A wonderful book, a wonderful read.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“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
Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Q1Vl17qyQQIvvPGeIPCkr?si=-iMhVz8uRk2v2mTdolrPdg. The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman.
The Jane Austen Society was beautifully written historical fiction that revolved around seven characters, their love for Jane Austen books and their idea of Jane Austen Society. It was about getting over loss and grief, camaraderie and companionship one find in mutual love and passion for books, romance, village and Post WWII life, and power of reading.
Writing was beautiful. It had that classic feel that took me right to post WWII, 1940s era, written multiple third person narrative set in the quaint village, Chawton, Hampshire where Jane Austen spent last few years of her life writing her world famous books. It was so well written that I had hard time believing this was author’s debut novel.
Plot was simple yet enjoyable, refreshing and uplifting. It started with introduction of all 7 main characters and their life- Adeline, Dr. Gray, Mimi, Adam, Evie, Andrew, and Yardley. Each were introduced in different chapters with ups and down in their life, how they are big fan of Jane Austen and love all her books, how they met each other and later formed Jane Austen Society to preserve history and legacy and to spread their love to more people.
All characters were going through hard time, fighting their own battle to keep their ship afloat in the ocean of life. They all were so different from each other both in nature and profession and yet one thing that bound them in solid camaraderie was Jane Austen’s books and also saved their ship from sinking.
Dr. Gray was widowed general physician of Chawton who knew everybody in village with their past and future. This smart, down to earth and humble and gentle soul couldn’t see the signs of love that was always there. I liked his moment of realization. Adeline was school teacher and now young widow. She was my favorite character in book. I felt for her and I admired her for getting out of her grief.
Frances was lonely woman and only living child of Knight Family, living with her ailing father who never appreciated her. It was hard to understand her resignation, calm and cool demeanor to all that happened to her, nonetheless I liked her. Andrew was Knight Family’s solicitor who respected and admired Frances. It was mystery why he never told her- or if he did, what happened- which was revealed near the end.
Mimi– She had most interesting back story of all. I loved her from the beginning. Her journey to Hollywood star and love for everything related to Jane Austen was mind-blowing. I can’t believe how this smart, with so much self-restrain and self-respecting person can end up with likes of Jack. I didn’t like him a bit. I loved her for not losing her head in relationship, her view towards Hollywood and village life, and doing right thing at the end.
Adam was lonely and quiet farmer who had hard life. It was lovely to read his thoughts while reading Jane Austen. This man was full of surprises. Yardley brought liveliness in this book. I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not in the beginning but in second half he was great. Evie was brilliant. This girl surprised me. Her observations, love for books, foresight and thorough-mindedness was amazing. She literally saved everything.
What I loved in this book was backstory of all characters, beautiful description of Chawton, home of Jane Austen, Knight Estate and its library, her family history, tradition, legacy and villager’s view point towards it, and their culture and mindset.
Best of all banter and discussion between characters on Jane Austen books, their dissection of all Austen characters and their passionate love for all her books and more importantly how they understood Jane Austen through her writing, her view towards society and observation of people through her characters. I have only read Pride and Prejudice and I have to say I didn’t understood the book the way these characters did.
Romance was fun to read. We can see couples’ admiration and who liked who but who ended up with whom was mystery itself. There was misunderstanding and drama just liked Pride and Prejudice, jealousy and possibility of love triangle which was flamed by busybody of village.
There was mystery of a will by old Knight that decided the fate of Frances and cottage the society wanted to turn into museum. I couldn’t tell till the end what will happen to cottage, if they could save it or not and how. Climax was tense but they were still hopeful because of Evie’s smartness, and then the biggest secret was revealed. It was shocking but the unlikely decision and then a scheme gave it whole new turn. It was at the end and in epilogue was actually revealed what exactly happened to cottage. Epilogue was lovely, feel good and exhilarating.
And lastly, I listened audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage. This was my first audiobook, I struggled a bit, wouldn’t have tried it without e-book but after few chapters I loved it. One thing was sure, I got so used to Richard’s voice. Pitch and changes he made for different characters was amazing.
This made me want to reread Pride and Prejudice and read all Austen books. It was said many times in the book Jane Austen’s novels act as balm to wounded, sooth the soul and get us through disturbing times. Well this is best time to read Austen books and see if it works in the time like this.
The Jane Austen Society was simple yet beautiful, lovely and refreshing historical fiction with amazing characters and setting.Tweet
Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.
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May 25 Jane Austen’s World
May 25 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog
May 26 Frolic Media
May 26 A Bookish Affair
May 26 Courtney Reads Romance
May 26 Margie’s Must Reads
May 26 The Reading Frenzy
May 27 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina
May 27 Gwendalyn’s Books
May 27 Romantically Inclined Reviews
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May 30 Cup of Tea with that Book, Please
May 30 Historical Fiction Reader
May 31 Jane Austen in Vermont
June 01 From Pemberley to Milton
June 01 My Jane Austen Book Club
June 01 AustenBlog
June 02 Lu’s Reviews
June 02 The Green Mockingbird
June 03 The Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
June 03 Relz Reviews
June 03 Impressions in Ink
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June 04 Life of Literature
June 04 Laura’s Reviews
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June 07 Rachel Dodge
June 07 An Historian About Town
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June 08 Austenesque Reviews
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The Write Review
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I hope you enjoyed this post and review. Let me know what do you think about the book or if you have read this already and what are your thought on this book, which is your favorite Jane Austen book?
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