For a die-hard Jane Austen fan like me, a book of anything about her is too tempting to resist. So when I came across The Jane Austen Society and read the summary, I was very much excited. Reading a book about a Jane Austen Society, formed in the small village of Chawton, where she once resided and wrote, by an oddly associated group connected by their love for her books, I thought to be a wonderful antidote to my present state of mind. In this expectation, I was partly gratified and partly disappointed.
I’d begin with what I liked about this book. First, I liked the main characters, who though quite different from one another, united and connected through their love of Jane Austen’s works. Dr. Gray and Adeline Lewis Grover both suffer from grief, and in their grief, they find some peace in Jane Austen’s books; Dr. Gray in Emma and Adeline in Pride and Prejudice. Adam Berwick and young Evie stone, who were deprived of pursuing their studies due to family circumstances, find their solace in reading Jane Austen. Natalie Jenner tells us through her characters how Jane Austen’s books comfort us through our suffering and our bitter disappointments. And we Austen fans know how true that is. I’ve read that, during this troubled time, there has been a considerable increase in the sale of Jane Austen books. That is proof in itself of how much relief you can find in indulging yourself in an Austen book. Second, I enjoyed the character psychologies and their connection to Austen’s beloved characters. It’s so endearing to read the characters coming to understand themselves through analyzing characters like Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Wickham, Emma, Mr. Knightley, Fanny, Henry Crawford, and the lot. 🙂 I enjoyed Natalie Jenner’s analysis of Austen’s books and their characters.
While I enjoyed the characters and their connection to Jane Austen’s books, I couldn’t say the same about the story as a whole. First, I found the plot somewhat lacking. The story was all over the place without a properly structured flow. The chapters lacked connection, at times, and were felt like disjointed episodes. Also, some parts were quite boring with so many details on the characters’ daily lives. The writing was good overall, but some repetitive phrases grated on my nerves. But what disappointed me the most is the lack of connection between the main storyline and the characters’ passion for Jane Austen. The two ran in different planes.
On the whole, however, despite its flaws, it was a comforting read. It is the sort of book that’ll take off your worries and fatigue after a long tiring day. It is not like reading Jane Austen, of course, not by a long shot, but the characters’ connection to Austen books is so relatable to us that we feel a part of that society, too. If you are a Jane Austen die-hard like me, you should give this book a go. 🙂