The Jane Austen Society

By

Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner is based on the plot of Pride and Prejudice.  Like Austen, Jenner introduces several complex characters, along with many opportunities for misunderstandings that have an impact for a lifetime.  Set immediately after WWII in the town of Chawton, the book describes life in a small village with people who are struggling to find a way forward after suffering losses during the war.

Chawton was the last home of Jane Austen and visitors travel to this tiny village to get a glimpse of how the famous author lived during the latter part of her life.  To most villagers, these tourists represent an intrusion into their tiny town and private lives.  However, there are a handful of villagers who not only love Jane Austen’s novels, but they also use the novels to try to make sense of what remains of their post war hopes and dreams.  A few die-hard Austen fans set about to preserve any remaining evidence that Austen lived and wrote several famous works in the town.  To ensure the American audience is satisfied, Jenner also introduces a famous Hollywood actress into the story.

As with Pride and Prejudice, there are missed cues and opportunities that result in star-crossed lovers.  Since the novel is set in the immediate aftermath of the war, there are stark realities of loved ones forever lost but never forgotten.  The character’s dialogues in the book are witty and Austen herself would enjoy the banter.  If you are an Austen fan you will especially love how the characters in The Jane Austen Society provide their own assessments of various Austen works.  I learned a few things despite having read Austen’s novels several times.

The Jane Austen Society is not Chick Lit, rather it is literary fiction that just happens to address real life issues in the context of some of the greatest fictional stories ever written.  If you want to be entertained, heartbroken and hopeful at the same time, then please, do read The Jane Austen Society.