The Jane Austen Society

The Jane Austen Society

A Novel

Book - 2020
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"This novel delivers sweet, smart escapism." -- People

"Fans of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society ... A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal." --Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

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.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, [2020]
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781250248732
Branch Call Number: JENN
Characteristics: 309 pages


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Aug 01, 2020

THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY will definitely appeal to fans of the famous authoress. It’s set mostly in the cozy village of Chawton, England just after WWII. The book follows a small, diverse group of Austen enthusiasts who endeavor to preserve Austin’s final home and her legacy while they each cope with personal secrets and struggles. The characters’ relationships and their shared love of reading are at the heart of the story. The various storylines mimic those found in Austen classics to varying degrees of success. Although predictable, this is a light and pleasant read by first-time author, Natalie Jenner. Having visited the real Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton several years ago, this book brought back some wonderful memories for me.

Jul 31, 2020

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner is a delightful English yarn, an antidote to today’s troubled times. Chawton is a quaint village where Jane Austen lived with her family one hundred and fifty years ago. There are few family members left and the property is in danger of being sold to a golf course consortium. A small group of citizens, an odd bunch at that, take on the difficult task of maintaining the estate, along with the memory of the renowned author. Thus is formed the Jane Austen Society. The group consists of a teacher, a bachelor lawyer, a widowed country doctor, a quiet farmer, an actress, a servant and the last living relative of the Austen family. Everyone is devoted to the Austen legacy and will use their skills and their love of the novels to ensure the continuity of the heritage. This will not be an easy endeavour. The novel is beautifully written. If you are looking for a little escape, spend a few hours in Chawton with Jane Austen and her protectors. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Jul 12, 2020

The jacket copy says that fans of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir will enjoy this book; I’m a fan of the first and not of the second, but I did enjoy this historical fiction tribute to Jane Austen and her fans. I think the book was written expressly for them; deeper familiarity with her novels would certainly enhance the reading. I’m not sure that it will convert those unfamiliar with her work; it didn’t inspire me to reread Austen, but it kept my interest because it celebrates reading.
Jenner has invented a group of characters who form the Jane Austen Society in the post-WWII village of Chawton (Austen’s historic home). In homage to Austen, she concentrates on illustrating issues of class and romantic expectations in the closed-environment Petri dish of an English village; in service to her own muse, there’s a 21st Century perspective that makes it more bearable to me than Austen’s own works. The author’s outlier characters, Evie and Adam (oh, the symbolism—but no, there’s a huge age gap and they’re never associated romantically) are the ones who made the book interesting to me. I really liked them. Adam, a village farmer, discovers Austen from the visit of an American girl on Austen pilgrimage in 1932, thereby obtaining the gift of companionship and wisdom that books can bring to a lonely life. Evie’s introduced to Austen in school by the dynamic village teacher. Though she has to leave the village school before graduation in order to work in the manor where Austen once lived, she has her master reading list and she’s able to nurture her native intelligence through access to the manor library.
Most of the other characters are flawed but sympathetic, just like real life. The village doctor, the village lawyer, and the lady of the manor all have starring roles, along with the teacher and the American—later a movie star who never lost her love for Austen—her movie producer fiancé, and a Sotheby’s assistant director of estate sales. Couples find happiness and the entwined threads all tie up nicely in the end. I’ll look forward to another book from the author, especially if she steps further from Austen’s shadow.

Jun 20, 2020

I absolutely loved this gently moving, character driven story with a pace that lulled me into quiet contentment. For me, the pacing and storytelling (minus the epistolary element) was reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer in its wit, setting, and light romance. The story also had moments of heartbreak and melancholy, but ultimately it was a feel good, happily ever after story.

I’m a Jane Austen fan, but have yet to read her complete library and I don't think it's necessary to know each of her stories to enjoy this book. The Jane Austen devotees within know her work and have their favorites, but the author does a wonderful job in conveying the characters' thoughts and literary comparisons without losing the reader. Although, I will say, the story entices me to hurry up and finish the Austen stories that I have yet to read.

Jun 20, 2020

What a great read! I love the way that Jenner includes subtle nods to Austen, both in her couplings of characters and scrutiny of society's structure and problems. Any Austen fan will enjoy.

Jun 17, 2020

Sorry but I couldn't get into this - rather formulaic and too slow-paced.

May 24, 2020

I loved this book! I was afraid it wouldn't live up to all I was expecting, but I would happily give it 10 stars! The novel starts out slowly, which is a perfect pace for telling this lovely story that takes place during the 1940's in the small English village of Chawton, where author Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. Each of the main characters has experienced sadness and heartbreak, and all are brought together by their love of Jane Austen's novels. I was impressed with this debut effort, which was so well-written - the characters were distinct and vibrant, the architecture vividly described, the emotions realistic, and the plot evolved smoothly with all the pieces fitting perfectly. Don't be put off if you aren't familiar with these novels, the story works just as well whether you are an Austen fan or just love novels with a happy ending in a country village.

Thanks to NetGalley & publisher St. Martin’s Press for a digital advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own.

May 17, 2020

Want to immerse yourself in Jane Austen's world without rereading one of her classics? Here is your chance. Although the book is set in the 20th century (the majority of it after WW II is over), the place is still very Austenesque. And since the main characters are discussing Austen's books and characters all about the village, you see how much of Jane is still there. It is a lovely tale of a group of people whose lives seem to have stalled and how a common purpose unites them and moves them forward to bigger and better things. Natalie Jenner's writing weaves Austen's themes through the scenes that make up the narrative in ways that will be most evident to true fans, but even those less knowledgeable of the intricacies in the Austen treasury will still greatly enjoy the book. This should prove to be a popular book group pick as there are many issues related to the characters that could be mined in a discussion.

OPL_KrisC Apr 10, 2020

A delightful historical novel that is set in the town where Jane Austen used to live and focuses on a group of people who come together to form the Jane Austen Society. For fans of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.


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Aug 01, 2020

“Reading, she now understood, had been her own choice of rebellion.” - p.73

Aug 01, 2020

“…inside the pages of each and every book was a whole other world.
He could disappear inside that world whenever he needed to—whenever he felt the outside world, and other people, pressing in on him—a pressure from social contact and expectations that was surely routine for everyone else, but affected him much more intensely and inexplicably. But he could also experience things from other people’s points of view and learn their lessons alongside them, and—most important to him—discover the key to living a happy life.” - pp. 7-8.

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