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The Jane Austen Book Club | [Karen Joy Fowler]

The Jane Austen Book Club

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.
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Publisher's Summary

A sublime comedy of contemporary manners, this is the novel Jane Austen might well have written had she lived in 21st century California.

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.

©2004 Karen Joy Fowler; (P)2004 Listen and Live Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This exquisite novel is bigger and more ambitious than it appears. It's that rare book that reminds us what reading is all about." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Sly wit, quirky characters, and digressive storytelling....Like Austen, Fowler is a subversive wit and a wise observer of human interaction of all stripes." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (249 )
5 star
 (41)
4 star
 (62)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (39)
Overall
3.3 (44 )
5 star
 (7)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.6 (43 )
5 star
 (9)
4 star
 (18)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
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  •  
    Kathy Goldsboro, NC, USA 06-26-04
    Kathy Goldsboro, NC, USA 06-26-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "agree with Lisa"

    This book sounded interesting, so I downloaded the sample to listen to it. Though not a Jane Austen fan, necessarily, I am in a book club, and I thought it would be worth the read. Unfortunately, Lisa was right- the reader has a raspy, sing-song voice, which might be better suited to a light mystery, like one by Diane Mott Davidson. I decided I just couldn't listen to the entire book by this reader.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Bayside, NY, United States 06-02-04
    Lisa Bayside, NY, United States 06-02-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
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    13
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    Overall
    "well written; not well read"

    The Jane Austin Book Club is beautifully crafted. Interwoven stories of the club members construct a community that is compelling for me as a reader to enter into. Their stories are framed by Jane Austin's to make a socially and historically textured world. The characters are eccentric and the author's descriptive sensibilities are surprising at times and hip. However, the narrator's sing song inflection and high pitch is annoyingly inappropriate for the text. I had to fight against it to enjoy the book.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Spokane, WA, USA 04-29-07
    Mary Spokane, WA, USA 04-29-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    2
    1
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    "Do the readers have to audition?"

    This reader is more suited to selling laundry detergent or margarine. Her bizarre sing-song was ill-suited to the subject matter and made her sound as though she did not understand what she was reading. Surely publishers audition these performers before employing them. This book makes me think they do not. It was a terrible distraction from the material.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Ottawa, ON, Canada 06-23-04
    Kim Ottawa, ON, Canada 06-23-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
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    4
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    "Tried to like it, but couldn't"

    I'm a big Jane Austen fan and I thought this book would bring her works into a more contemporary setting. The book started out slow, but I figured it would get better as it progressed. Unfortunately it didn't. There were snippets of each Jane Austen book and the themes were reflected in each chapter, but the whole concept didn't mesh very well. Too choppy at times as each character's story was being told. I had a hard time keeping everything straight. The narrator's voice didn't help either. She sounded condescending at certain points and just plain annoying the rest of the time. I'd like to give it another try, so I'll probably read it rather than listen to it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nevina CT, United States 09-10-08
    nevina CT, United States 09-10-08 Member Since 2006

    nevina

    HELPFUL VOTES
    92
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    "Boring"

    What can I say? I wanted to like this book, but I just didn't. I have a rule that if I get to page 100 of a book and don't care about the characters or what happens next I give up. Likewise with audio books: If, after listening for two hours, I am bored and unengaged I give up. I listen to many audio books and very rarely do I give up on any, but after 2 hours of this book my thoughts were, " life is too short to endure any more of this". The narrators voice was dull and the story just didn't keep me interested so my advice is, use your precious credits on something else.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    08-07-06
    08-07-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    129
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    161
    5
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    "It passed the time"

    I have lower expectations for audiobooks. I expect them to help me pass the time driving, cleaning, sorting laundry, running on the treadmill, etc. This book did a good job of that. I didn't have to think too hard and the story was benign. I don't think I'd ever recommend it to anyone as a book they must read as there wasn't much story, the characters were underdeveloped, and there wasn't near enough Jane Austen. However, it was pleasant, I kept listening, and it didn't last too long. If you put it in the 'light read/listen' category instead of with the likes of Jane Austen it is missable but decent. There were times that the narrator was irritating but not enough to avoid anything else read by her.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nigel Montreal, QC, Canada 11-26-05
    Nigel Montreal, QC, Canada 11-26-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Intimate, delicious - characters like friends"

    I am not a huge Jane Austin fan and you don't need to be to love this book (though it does add to the enjoyment to have at least some idea of the plots of her novels - i.e. if you have watched several of the movies of Austin's books). This is a story about good, ordinary people, some of whom are close friends, others relatives and all connected through six people who meet every month in a book club to discuss Jane Austin's books. The book weaves in and out of their life stories, focusing on how the people are influenced and changed by life events. One glimpses a diverse range of occupations and interests, sees deeply into these people's personal lives and feelings and everything is wrapped up, eventually, in love, both happy and flawed. By the way I thought the narration was very good - nuanced and timed just right.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    04-18-05
    04-18-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB"

    Frankly, I'm shocked at all the acclaim over this trite, glib book. The narrator was distracting and bland, and the story was basically a bore. Characters were, while on the surface eccentric, thin as paper adn without substance. Nothing, and I mean nothing they said was clever, or insightful or interesting. That we were on the subject of Jane Austen and this writer still managed to bore us to death was adding insult to injury. Don't bother reading this or listening to it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Qbook Betterton, MD, USA 09-30-04
    Qbook Betterton, MD, USA 09-30-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    155
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    "A Fun Look At Normal Life"

    Other reviewers have mentioined the reading as a problem, but I actually enjoyed Schraf's narration. Maybe that is just me and I guess the reading could be better, but it never held me back from enjoying the book.

    A story of a book club that only reads Jane Austen?s novels, Fowler?s book turns out to be very enjoyable. I had a very strong feeling when finished that this book needs a number of readings along with re-readings of the Austen books, which are represented one for each chapter. In addition to changing the Austen novel each chapter, Fowler chooses a different person in the club to focus on with scenes from the character?s past. Clearly the overall emphasis on social interaction is very much like Austen?s emphasis, but this book is of our time, and I found it very touching, making me often smile. Not a supper serious book with any action, but rather a story of normality.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Chicago, IL, United States 06-11-04
    Rachel Chicago, IL, United States 06-11-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    "Utterly Delightful"

    I am not a big Jane Austen fan. In fact, I only read one book in High School - Northanger Abbey. But I like the movies. But don't let the title deceive you. This book is not all about Jane Austen. It is about people and the people happen to be in a book club, reading Jane Austen books. There are a wide variety of characters. In each chapter of the book you learn all about one of the club memebers and at the same time they are reviewing one of Jane Austen's books in the book club. The characters are unique and you will admire their strengths and understand their weaknesses. This book was refreshing and a very easy to listen too.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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