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Publisher's Summary

"Richard Armitage is an excellent choice of narrator for this celebration of the famed British author's work. His deep, resonant voice meanders through the stories of seven different people in the small English town of Chawton...a great casual listen, especially for those familiar with Austen's work." (AudioFile magazine)

This program includes a bonus conversation between the author and Kathleen A. Flynn, author of The Jane Austen Project.

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 listeners for years to come.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press 

"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 best-selling author of The Lost Girls of Paris)

"Anyone seeking an antidote to contemporary chaos will find a welcome respite among the members of a group whose outer lives may appear simple, but whose inner lives need the kind of balm Austen knew well." (Washington Post

"Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner's first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships, all largely set within and reflecting the often intrusive atmosphere of a small country community.... The pleasures are many in this clever tribute to the beloved and endlessly influential Austen and the English village tale." (Booklist starred review)

©2020 Natalie Jenner (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Editor's Pick

A society I would love to join
A quaint British town in the 1940s, Jane Austen’s legacy, and a narration by Richard Armitage… I mean, how could this not be great? Natalie Jenner’s debut novel tells the story of an unlikely group of people who come together to preserve the legacy of their favorite author, all the while helping each other through the hardships of post-war life. While I must admit I have not yet had the chance to listen to Armitage narrate this particular historical fiction, based on his incredible repertoire of 5-star narrations, I have no doubt that it will anything but sensational. I don’t know about you, but for whatever reason historical fictions that remind me of the power of kindness and our shared humanity have recently emerged as my personal cure for quarantine-induced cabin fever, and I can’t wait to escape into this one.

What listeners say about The Jane Austen Society

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Choose Hope

I knew of Jane Austen but did not partake in her stories since I loved the sciences. I wasn't sure what to expect with this audio book , but what I experience was magical. The catalyst for this story is Jane Austen. Her books touched many lives and her determination to get them publish is extraordinary considering the time period. However, that wasn't the primary story. It was the eclectic characters and their struggles that mirrored the social commentary found in the Austen books that was powerfully told. The descriptions of the expectations, hardship, loss, and love experience by all the characters drew empathy from me. The range of empathy depends on your life experiences. The narration by Richard Armitage is outstanding. Even though the characters are distinct with RA voices, he is Dr. Gray in my mind. Excellent story and performance!

14 people found this helpful

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Skip it.

Narrator was great, but the story was rubbish. Austen fans beware, please skip it. Great promise at the beginning but increasing amounts of trash until it just becomes unbearable.

10 people found this helpful

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Introduction to Jane Austen

Wow. I friend said this was on her list of books to read and although I wasn’t familiar with Jane Austen and was ready to begin my next book I thought , “Why not?”

Wow - I am not disappointed! The character development is amazing. Each one so interesting yet with their own stories and brought together with such skill and mastery

If the actual Jane Austen books are half as interesting I’m sure I’ll be hooked!

10 people found this helpful

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Great novel!

I couldn’t stop listening! Characters well developed and relatable! It’s balm for the soul and if you love Jane Austin you are in for a great treat! Narration was excellent! It’s so calming and yet full of surprises !It also makes you want to reread Jane Austin’s books! I’m looking forward to Natalie Jenner’s next novel!

8 people found this helpful

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It was okay

The story was okay. Most of my qualms were with Adam conveniently being gay without any real reason to create the romance with Yardley. That romance could have very well been developed better. The performance by Richard Armitage was great.

7 people found this helpful

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Deep and Rich

Janeites of the world, rejoice, this is a hefty new offering. It is an imagining of an original effort to physically preserve Jane Austen’s legacy. Characterization is rich and there’s the surprising extra spice of feeling like you may recognize some of these character’s stories.

Another surprise is that the book begins with, and deeply portrays, what Austen means even to men. It’s ridiculous for me to have to say this, but I must: Austen is worthy to be read, even studied, by all. The characters and their conversations about Austen will help you dig deeper into her legacy, why it exists, and how sneaky and capable she is as an author in the worlds she builds. I, for one, am glad that her legend prevailed despite the gate keepers.

Also, I was a little peeved at PW for saying that this book is for Austen lovers, and yet I started my review with the same sentiment! The comparisons to The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society are right on. Could a movie of this book, where men actually utter the words that they, too, are enamored with Austen, help show the appeal to all? Regardless, it would be super fun and the book would make an appealing movie.

I thought this book was probably a flighty offering, so honestly I avoided it for a while during the pandemic. Glad I picked it up, though, it’s very deep and moving. A major theme of the book is grief and how you get through it. Set at the end of WWII those griefs are different but proliferate in this world. They also speak to today.

Chawton is home to a local doctor, a young widow, a lawyer, a farmer, an heiress (whose last name is Knightly) and soon to be the home of a movie star in her prime. They’ve all had their hurts and sorrows, taking solace with Austen and each other, in their own different ways. They all fumble a bit, too, just as we do. When Austen brings them together, their one desire is to help others have access to their Austen. But can they succeed?

7 people found this helpful

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Fun Austen Tromp

What a fun cast of characters read by a wonderful narrator. I loved all the references and conversations about Austen’s work as much as the character’s drive to preserve history. I would listen again.

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Delightful

This book was a delight. The characters are relatable, the plot engaging, and the narrator Richard Armitage is excellent. Listening to this book was so relaxing for me.

4 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

I’ve never read a book faster. I missed the characters when I put the book down. So this novel, will keep you awake in a beautifully hungry way.

4 people found this helpful

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I didn’t want it to end!

There were many characters in this book, and I cared about each one of them, even the cad! But isn’t that what we love so much about Jane Austen herself, that she creates a small world populated by many people and we care enough to read and read about them? The narrator was masterful and I highly recommend listening to his performance. Well done to author and narrator.

2 people found this helpful