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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 18/100: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler

Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #7: A Book About Books

I like Jane Austen and have read all but one of her novels ([book:Mansfield Park|45032] -- but I'll get to it!) Still, somehow there is something about me that seems to be fundamentally different from the scores of Austen's devotees, as seems to be evidenced by the women in books inspired  by love of her (this one and also [book:Austenland|248483]), which are always just sort of "meh" to me.

This book felt less like a novel and more like a collection of connected short stories and character studies. That was fine once I stopped expecting much to happen besides a chapter with a backstory for all the characters. My favorite character was definitely Grigg, probably because he reads science fiction AND Jane Austen, and also perhaps because a male Austenite seemed a little less affected than the typical female Austenite.

I did like that not all the characters in the book club were totally smitten with Jane, and I thought Allegra's commentary about class issues was crucial to injecting some deeper critical thought into the narrative.

Of course, what there is of the plot has parallels in Jane Austen's writing, but in some ways this feels mostly presumptuous. I think I would have preferred a straight-up retelling of one of Austen's novels over this bit that tries a bit too hard to be clever with its Austen allusions.