Book review – The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

jane austen book clubFive women and one man meet monthly to discuss Jane Austen’s books and during this time their lives intersect and change. I have literally just finished reading this book and already I feel there is very little to tell about it. Things happen, stories are told about the women’s pasts and some of them fall in love in the mean time.

This book was highly recommended to me and received a lot of glowing reviews, but I am quite lukewarm about it. The stories about the women (and the one man) were nice, it was interesting to see what they carried around from their pasts and it was nice to see how they interacted and changed with each other. But it all felt very superficial. You don’t really get to know the members of the book club well. You get glimpses of their lives and just as you start getting invested in them, their particularly story line is cut off, never to be taken up again.

I wished the book was longer. I wished each person’s story was given more attention. I wished I finally found out who the narrator was. The book is narrated in the first person plural, but it then talks about each of the characters in the third person, so it is not clear who is doing the telling of the story. The point of view also changes a lot, frequently in the middle of a chapter or even a paragraph, which would not be possible if one person was the narrator. Are they all the narrator? But what about the first person plural? It’s a bit confusing.

I guess I felt the book was a bit of a let down. Not only because it didn’t live up to the glowing reviews – which is hardly the book’s fault – but also because it would present a certain story line, go quite far down the road with it and then abandon it. The characters in the book deserved more, and so did the reader.

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