The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

First Impressions:  The first third of this book is rather boring.  Allegra is a twenty-eight year old drama queen with the emotional maturity of a girl of sixteen, Prudie comes off as thinking she’s “all that” because she can speak French, and Jocelyn is an annoying control freak.  More than a little domineering, a little self-righteous.  With Bernadette, I get a picture of a Hollywood Beatnik/Hippie hybrid type.  I don’t know.  That’s the best way I can think to describe her.  I come closest to liking Sylvia (though I wish she’d get pissed off a time or two and actually express it) and Grigg.

The book improves at Grigg’s discussing Northanger Abbey, which I don’t even like, by the way.  I never even thought to read Udolpho!  Not just because I didn’t think it a real novel, but because I can’t stand Gothic novels.  Wuthering Heights bored me silly, and I thought Jane Eyre not only ridiculous, but not at all romantic.

::deep breath while restraining myself from jumping into a rant on the Gothic novel::

Peeves: 

  • They never actually really discuss my favorite:  Pride and Prejudice.  In fact, they never seem go into any depth with any of the novels.
  • Austen’s novels weren’t integrated into the story enough to really meld it into something meaningful.  The novels, it seemed to me, had no real purpose in the book other than to be the glue, along with Jocelyn, that connected the group in the first place. 
  • I got more than a little irritated at the literary snobbishness of the female characters.  Sure, I like Austen, and a lot of other classics, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate more modern stories.  Even the occasional sci-fi like Battlefield Earth and The Dragonriders of Pern.

The Jane Austen Book Club is an okay read, but I can’t say I liked it all that much, and I have no intention of watching the movie.

Rating:  3.25 out of 5 stars

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