The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club

I gave this book solid 2 stars on Goodreads. I might be being a bit too harsh on this one and I could rate this as a 3-star read, but I could only go for 2.5 out of 5 stars at best.

First and foremost, please do note that I really, REALLY wanted to like this book. I really did.  I watched the movie adaptation years ago and I liked it a lot. I started off this book with high expectations. I was expecting that I would fall madly in love with this book and that this book would hook me, but sadly, it didn’t pan out that way.

The premise sounds interesting and the story kicked off pretty nicely.  It kind of gives off a whimsical feel and I instantly fell in love with the story; I only had a good feeling about this.
However, from the second chapter, where the author starts to delve a bit deeper into each character, it felt bogged down. It felt slowed, tedious and plain boring. I sometimes wondered why I would have to keep reading about the characters whom I couldn’t even relate to. It was pretty painful to say the least.

I think the plot where five women plus one man hold a book club and discuss Jane Austen was interesting and promising enough;  the members are all somewhat unhappy and lovelorn in their own way, they all have their own issues/problems irrespective of its degree and through the book club, their paths slowly cross as time goes by.

The drawback is that I didn’t get to fully invested either in the story nor the characters. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t get relate to any of the main characters. In particular, their attitude towards Grigg in the beginning was such a turn-off for me; it even raised my hackles up. Here’s the part that made me most irritated;

Grigg had never read Pride and Prejudice.
Grigg had never read Pride and Prejudice.
Grigg had never read Pride and Prejudice.
Grigg had read The Mysteries of Udolpho and God knows how much science fiction but he’d never found the time or the inclination to read Pride and Prejudice
We really didn’t know what to say.

I would say this illustrates amazingly well how obsessed with Jane Austen those four women  – Bernadette, Jocelyn, Sylvia and Prudie – are; they’re all hardcore Jane Austen buffs and I totally understand where they’re coming from. Jane Austen has undeniably a massive fan base, I know a lot of readers have been enthralled by her books.
That being said though, I found their somewhat disdainful attitude toward Grigg for not having read Pride and Prejudice a bit over the top. I actually irritated me a lot.
In that regard, I can give credit to this book but I wish this book had more character development. Being hardly any character growth may have been the reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had expected.

With not much going on, the story goes on and on and on until the very end of the book with about 20 pages left, and then the story suddenly picks up and there comes a mad rush toward the epilogue. I felt this pacing a bit too odd and rather hasty. This is also the point where things start to be looking up for the members (in particular, for Sylvia and Jocelyn). This twist also came cross a bit too fortuitous and ostentatious to me; it felt as though the author suddenly decided that this story would need a happy ending to beautifully wrap things up. It even felt like an afterthought.

I reckon the saving grace of this book is the redeeming ending; it literally saved this book for me. Had it not been for this twist, I would’ve rated this book as the least interesting and the most frustrating book I’ve ever read in the year 2017.
Although it felt everything tied together a bit too nicely in the end, the ‘Ask Austen’ sequence put a smile on my face. It was nicely done.

Now, I was thinking of getting her another book, We are All Completely Beside Ourselves when I started reading this, but I’m not quite sure about it now.

Do you think I should give this author another try or I shouldn’t?
Let me know in the comments below and I’m looking forward to reading your feedback! 😀

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5 thoughts on “The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

  1. It is incredible how similar our responses to this bool were! I couldn’t relate to any of the characters, either, and found their attitude towards non-Austenites irritating. I’m pretty sure their love of Jane Austen’s books was meant to be endearing, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. I think I gave this book three stars, but that was back when I was a bit too liberal with my ratings. Looking back, I’d say two stars are more accurate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Silvia! What a relief to know that you felt the same way I did 🙂 I do understand how much they love Jane Austen and it’s totally OK but the disdainful attitude just got on my nerves. I was like, ‘Hold up, we are all entitled to read whatever book we like! Don’t you dare belittle/look down on others merely because they haven’t read Jane Austen!’ XD

      Like

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