This book by Karen Fowler is about a group of 5 women and 1 man who meet together to discuss the various Jane Austen novels. However, do not expect to learn anything more about the actual novels by reading this book. Instead, the reader learns about relationships of six people whose interest in Jane Austen is the least of their commonalities.
At the end of the novel, the author does include a brief summary of each of the novels discussed at the book club and a number of responses from friends and family of Ms. Austen regarding her various books. Personally, I felt that any author who has to convince readers of another author's greatness is better off not writing at all. The ladies in the novel disdain any who watch the movies rather than read the Austen novels and are critical of those who actually enjoy the movies or prefer them to the novels. Having both read some of Austen's novels and watched the movies, I can feel the disdain already. Nevertheless, I admit to not being an Austen fan but thoroughly enjoying the movies. I believe that Austen had some great plots but was a dry writer and I am currently using Mansfield Park to cure my insomnia.
As a side note, this novel was also made into a movie. I saw the movie before I read the book - not knowing that the movie was based on a book. The movie was better.
What was fun at the end of the novel was questions that might be asked by the various characters in the novel. Most have nothing to do with Austen but with the Fowler novel instead. And so, just for fun, I will answer one of the questions posed by each of the six book club members.
Jocelyn's question: Is it rude to give a person a book as a gift and then ask later if the person liked it? Would you ever do that?
Answer: No I do not think it is rude to do so. It shows an interest in whether or not the book was something the recipient might enjoy and can be beneficial to the giver in determining whether or not to give similar books in the future. So yes, I might indeed do that.
Allegra's question: In the Jane Austen Book Club, I take two falls and visit two hospitals. Did you stop to wonder how a woman who supports herself making jewelry affords health insurance? Do you think we will ever have universal coverage in this country?
Answer: No, I never actually wondered about Allegra's health coverage. I guess I assumed that if she could not afford it herself, she would willingly place that burden on her parents or the government. Unfortunately, I do fear we will have universal coverage in this country and that will be the demise of health care altogether. People will be backlogged for routine check ups and the wealthy will use their money to overcome the red tape or purchase private doctors while the poor will continue to get substandard care and the middle class will continue to foot the bill in the interest in equality.
Prudie's question: Il est plus hoteux de se defier de ses amis, que d'en etre trompe. Agree or disagree?
Answer: I do not speak French so disagree on the grounds that it is rude to speak a foreign language to people who do not speak that language.
Grigg's question: Jane Austen's books were intially published witout the author's name and tagged "An Interesting Book," which alerted the reader that romance was involved. If Austen were publishing today, would she be considered a romance writer?
Answer: If Austen were writing today, it would be highly unlikely that she would be published as any type of writer.
Bernadette's question: One of the reasons we don't know more about Austen is that her sister, Cassandra, destroyed many of her letters, finding them too presonal, or feeling they reflected badly on her. How does this make you feel about Cassandra?
Answer: I feel Cassandra was not diligent enough and should have made more of an effort to destroy much more of Austen's writings than just the letters.
Sylvia's question: Do you ever wish your partner had been written by some other writer, had better dialogue and a more charming way of suffering? What writer would you choose?
Answer: Of course I wish my partner had better dialogue and would cease in the whole suffering area altogether. Of course, I could say the same thing about myself and many people I know. But then if we all had Hollywood writers for our sitcom lives, we would be rather shallow indeed. I appreciate the depth of my partner and his passion. If I had to choose another writer though, I think I would lean toward Stephenie Meyer (author of Twilight series). Not that I want my partner to be a vampire, but she really gets to the soul of people and keeps you interested in what is going to happen next.
Acknowledgements: I want to thank my parents for teaching me to read and impressing in me a desire for good books. I want to thank the members of my own book club who help me see the many different meanings of a written phrase and appreciate my own opinions on the matter. I acknowledge the great minds behind google who let me write to my heart's content without having to worry about formatting the page. And thanks to all those who write, whether they are great writers or not, and take the chance on providing a great read for me and countless other readers.