Books/Reading

Book Review: The Jane Austen Society

Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction

Stars: 4-1/4 out of 5

Synopsis from GoodReads:

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.

Another historical fiction title, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you to Tina, over at My Life With Wool, who recommended this one to me when I was looking for a book that had something to do with Jane Austen.

Set mostly in the sleepy village of Chawton just after World War II, this title brings to life the interactions between several local residents, as well as a few non-residents, who all share their love of all things Jane. The estate of Jane’s eldest brother, Edward Knight, also features prominently in this book, and I loved how the author skillfully interwove details of Jane’s life, her family and the village of Chawton into the 20th century narrative. The small group who eventually make up the initial board members of the Society, are all drawn with lovely detail and while the pacing is slow, I enjoyed that as it gave me an opportunity to get to know each of these characters. None of them is perfect and all of them have had some marked struggles in their lives, but together, they are able to come together over the bond of Jane and her writing, and create the Society to continue on her legacy.

This was a perfect summertime read for me. Light and lovely and sweet (not in a twee or overly saccharine way) with lots of Jane Austen trivia thrown in for good measure. I would love to see this one made into a movie. I think it’d be easy to translate to the big screen, and it would be fun to see how a producer would cast this one. My favorite character is the young Evie Stone, who works in the big house on the Knight Estate but is a bookworm at heart. If you are too, and particularly if you’re a fan of Jane Austen, I’ll recommend this one for your summer TBR list!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Jane Austen Society

  1. I’m so happy you enjoyed it Anne, and I loved Evie too. It definitely was a quick read and so perfect for light summer reading. P.S. … a movie would be awesome!

    1. I understand there’s another book by the same author that follows Evie after the JA Society ends (not as good, per my reading friend, Katie, but still fun). I would definitely watch the movie!

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