Jane Austen’s Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

I read this book primarily because a film adaptation of it is being made at the moment and stars my favourite actress, Maria Bello, as Jocelyn. Wanting to get a heads-up on the story line and the character, I was also curious on how Fowler would create a novel with the help of Austen. Of all Austen’s novels, I am most familiar with Pride and Prejudice as it was not only my high school text in Literature but also because there have been so many film adaptations of it. Yet I go to Austen only to be entertained because while I appreciate the irony and satirical characterizations of Austen and her deftness in plots and witty Edwardian lines, I find her novels somewhat lacking in depth. I thus approached Fowler’s book with the same light attitude.In JABC the book club is organised by Jocelyn and consists of five ladies and a sole man. They rotate the host for the club as they discuss each novel of Austen. Unlike Austen, Fowler’s book does not have so much a plot but more a collection of vignettes of the characters’ past and current maladies. Single, to-be-divorced, lesbian, married, many times married are the status of the book club members. The range of characters and their backgrounds are mostly an interesting read. I also liked the subtleties and hints used by Fowler rather than writing the obvious. As relationships are deepened, broken, reconciled and formed, one knows even at the end of the book that nothing remains permanent in the lives of these members. Perhaps the only exception would be the lasting friendship between Jocelyn and Sylvia, and for that the book is a boon.

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