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The Jane Austen Book Club

by

The Jane Austen Book Club Cover

ISBN13: 9780452286535
ISBN10: 0452286530
Condition: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"I'm instinctively wary of genetic engineering, but Karen Fowler may have produced a literary equivalent of the elusive Super Tomato. The Jane Austen Book Club is modern chick lit spliced with genes from 19th-century romantic comedy. In fact, Fowler has so craftily designed this new novel to appeal to smart, middle-aged, book-buying women that one regards its demographic precision cynically. I'm sorry to report that it's delightful." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)

"The Jane Austen Book Club has received a lot of accolades, but frankly I don't get what all the hubbub is about. The 'postmodern'...fuss seems to be based entirely on Fowler's neat trick of writing individual story lines that mimic Austen novels....Is it asking too much for authors to lose the 'gee-whiz' factor and write organically? I can only assume that Fowler's book is doing so well because the title contains the words 'book club.' Her book is cheeky and cutesy and terribly shrewd. In this age of Oprah, it practically markets itself." Sacha Zimmerman, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Nothing ever moves in a straight line in Karen Joy Fowler's fiction, and in her latest, the complex dance of modern love has never been so devious or so much fun. Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her finely sighted eye for the frailties of human behavior and her finely tuned ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships. Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

Review:

"Fowler's fifth novel (after PEN/Faulkner award finalist Sister Noon) features her trademark sly wit, quirky characters and digressive storytelling, but with a difference: this one is book club — ready, complete with mock-serious 'questions for discussion' posed by the characters themselves. The plot here is deceptively slim: five women and one enigmatic man meet on a monthly basis to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, one at a time. As they debate Marianne's marriage to Brandon and whether or not Charlotte Lucas is gay, they reveal nothing so much as their own 'private Austen(s)': to Jocelyn, an unmarried 'control freak,' the author is the consummate matchmaker; to solitary Prudie, she's the supreme ironist; to the lesbian Allegra, she's the disingenuous defender of the social caste system, etc. The book club's conversation is variously astute, petty, obvious and funny, but no one stays with it: the characters nibble high-calorie desserts, sip margaritas and drift off into personal reveries. Like Austen, Fowler is a subversive wit and a wise observer of human interaction of all stripes ('All parents wanted an impossible life for their children — happy beginning, happy middle, happy ending. No plot of any kind'). She's also an enthusiastic consumer of popular culture, offsetting the heady literary chat with references to Sex and the City, Linux and 'a rug that many of us recognized from the Sundance catalog.' Though the 21 pages of quotations from Austen's family, friends and critics seems excessive, the novelty of Fowler's package should attract significant numbers of book club members, not to mention the legions of Janeites craving good company and happy endings. Agent, Wendy Weil. BOMC, Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild featured alternate. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Bright, engaging, dexterous literary entertainment for everyone, though with many special treats and pleasures for Janeites." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Fowler, a captivating and good-hearted satirist, exuberantly pays homage to and matches wits with Jane Austen in her most pleasurable novel to date." Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[I]f there was ever an invitation to settle down with a cup of Earl Grey and a smart story with literature at its heart, this is the one." Anita Sama, USA Today

Review:

"It's just as hard to explain quite why The Jane Austen Book Club is so wonderful. But that it is wonderful will soon be widely recognized, indeed, a truth universally acknowledged." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"Fowler's shrewdest, funniest fiction yet, a novel about how we engage with a novel. You don't have to be a student of Jane Austen to enjoy it, either." Patricia T. O'Conner, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[T]errific....Start quoting a few of Fowler's puckish lines and it becomes damnably difficult to stop. But there's more going on here than great comedy....Karen Joy Fowler deserves every success this savvy, episodic but chamois-smooth novel can bring." David Kipen, San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"In Ms. Fowler's wit, the way she renders the pratfalls of emotion and desire...she comes closest to her model. She is weaker with plot: some of the club members' own stories drag or else seem feverishly forced." Richard Eder, The New York Times

Review:

"A luxuriant pleasure!" Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

Review:

"I love this book! I haven't read Austen for years, Fowler's story worked like a charm." Sue Grafton, author of Q is for Quarry

Synopsis:

Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens.

Synopsis:

In Californias central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austens novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin,

unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club, the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel.

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.

About the Author

Karen Joy Fowler, a PEN/Faulkner and Dublin IMPAC nominee, is the author of the novels Sister Noon, Sarah Canary, and The Sweetheart Season, as well as the story collection Black Glass. She lives in Davis, California.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Christy Valentine, May 20, 2009 (view all comments by Christy Valentine)
I'm not certain which novel the other reviewer was reading, but I'm positive it couldn't be this one. Although I have never read any of Fowler's other novels, this one holds a special place in my heart as it seems filled with the pure joy of reading. A love of books is often difficult to convey in the printed form, but the characters of this novel express it beautifully. Each of the members of the book club love Austen and find something new and different to pick up on in her texts. Their individual lives, which loosely- very loosely- parallel the stories they read, add a depth to the novel that is unexpected. These women (and man) are very clearly touched by Austen's words, and rise to the occasion to defend her in front of crude, cheap paperback writers in an enviable manner. This book will encourage you to read and live the words you read.

As for those who have never read Austen before, I would still recommend the novel. The first time I read this book, my only exposure to Austen was "Pride and Prejudice." I was still able to enjoy the novel, and it prompted me to read Austen's novels on my own, and to revisit Fowler's book again afterward.

All in all, I think this is a wonderful novel, one whose title unfairly lends it to the category of chick-lit. It is, in fact, a brilliant mediation on the way the written word can affect people and rouse changes in their lives.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
jane austen, March 19, 2008 (view all comments by jane austen)
This has to be one of the worst books that I have ever attempted to read. I was expecting much from it given the rave reviews that it has received. I was extremely disappointed. It reads as though the author is attempting to write as a modern-day Jane Austen but it fails dismally. There is none of the wit and none of the keen insight Austen showed into the social strata as it was during her time. It is rubbish! It is a terrible mix of genres, the story is so incredibly dull that I used it regularly to send me off to sleep during bouts of insomnia and the characters were not engaging in any respect. Yuk!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780452286535
Author:
Fowler, Karen Joy
Publisher:
Plume Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
May 2005
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Jane Austen Book Club Used Trade Paper
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$4.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Plume Books - English 9780452286535 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fowler's fifth novel (after PEN/Faulkner award finalist Sister Noon) features her trademark sly wit, quirky characters and digressive storytelling, but with a difference: this one is book club — ready, complete with mock-serious 'questions for discussion' posed by the characters themselves. The plot here is deceptively slim: five women and one enigmatic man meet on a monthly basis to discuss the novels of Jane Austen, one at a time. As they debate Marianne's marriage to Brandon and whether or not Charlotte Lucas is gay, they reveal nothing so much as their own 'private Austen(s)': to Jocelyn, an unmarried 'control freak,' the author is the consummate matchmaker; to solitary Prudie, she's the supreme ironist; to the lesbian Allegra, she's the disingenuous defender of the social caste system, etc. The book club's conversation is variously astute, petty, obvious and funny, but no one stays with it: the characters nibble high-calorie desserts, sip margaritas and drift off into personal reveries. Like Austen, Fowler is a subversive wit and a wise observer of human interaction of all stripes ('All parents wanted an impossible life for their children — happy beginning, happy middle, happy ending. No plot of any kind'). She's also an enthusiastic consumer of popular culture, offsetting the heady literary chat with references to Sex and the City, Linux and 'a rug that many of us recognized from the Sundance catalog.' Though the 21 pages of quotations from Austen's family, friends and critics seems excessive, the novelty of Fowler's package should attract significant numbers of book club members, not to mention the legions of Janeites craving good company and happy endings. Agent, Wendy Weil. BOMC, Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild featured alternate. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "I'm instinctively wary of genetic engineering, but Karen Fowler may have produced a literary equivalent of the elusive Super Tomato. The Jane Austen Book Club is modern chick lit spliced with genes from 19th-century romantic comedy. In fact, Fowler has so craftily designed this new novel to appeal to smart, middle-aged, book-buying women that one regards its demographic precision cynically. I'm sorry to report that it's delightful." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review A Day" by , "The Jane Austen Book Club has received a lot of accolades, but frankly I don't get what all the hubbub is about. The 'postmodern'...fuss seems to be based entirely on Fowler's neat trick of writing individual story lines that mimic Austen novels....Is it asking too much for authors to lose the 'gee-whiz' factor and write organically? I can only assume that Fowler's book is doing so well because the title contains the words 'book club.' Her book is cheeky and cutesy and terribly shrewd. In this age of Oprah, it practically markets itself." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "Bright, engaging, dexterous literary entertainment for everyone, though with many special treats and pleasures for Janeites."
"Review" by , "Fowler, a captivating and good-hearted satirist, exuberantly pays homage to and matches wits with Jane Austen in her most pleasurable novel to date."
"Review" by , "[I]f there was ever an invitation to settle down with a cup of Earl Grey and a smart story with literature at its heart, this is the one."
"Review" by , "It's just as hard to explain quite why The Jane Austen Book Club is so wonderful. But that it is wonderful will soon be widely recognized, indeed, a truth universally acknowledged."
"Review" by , "Fowler's shrewdest, funniest fiction yet, a novel about how we engage with a novel. You don't have to be a student of Jane Austen to enjoy it, either."
"Review" by , "[T]errific....Start quoting a few of Fowler's puckish lines and it becomes damnably difficult to stop. But there's more going on here than great comedy....Karen Joy Fowler deserves every success this savvy, episodic but chamois-smooth novel can bring."
"Review" by , "In Ms. Fowler's wit, the way she renders the pratfalls of emotion and desire...she comes closest to her model. She is weaker with plot: some of the club members' own stories drag or else seem feverishly forced."
"Review" by , "A luxuriant pleasure!"
"Review" by , "I love this book! I haven't read Austen for years, Fowler's story worked like a charm."
"Synopsis" by , Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens.
"Synopsis" by ,

In Californias central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austens novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin,

unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

"Synopsis" by ,
From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club, the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one. But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel.

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, “Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.

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