What I Loved:
The Jane Austen Society is filled with conversations about Austen’s work and characters. It was an absolute delight to read about people that loved her books and enjoyed discussing them.
It’s just at the end of World War II in England. We are introduced individually to a group of people that have one thing in common, a love for Jane Austen.
🙋♂️ A village worker who is lonely and living with his mother.
🙋♂️ A widowed doctor trying to find happiness without his wife.
🙋♂️ A lawyer for the Austen estate.
🙋♂️ An auction house employee.
🙋 A pregnant war-widow.
🙋 An American movie star in the twilight of her career.
🙋 A young housekeeper with a brilliant mind.
🙋 The Heir Apparent to a Jane Austen residence
That is quite the eclectic group of people! They each for relationships with one another through completely different avenues as the book progresses. This group takes one little idea and collaborates to build it into a functioning society when it looks like one of the Austen estates could change ownership.
How I Felt:
I think that I may have made my synopsis sound a bit like a game of Clue and that is not what this book is at all…so mystery readers…sorry. The Jane Austen Society is a beautiful story of building unlikely friendships, personal growth and overcoming loss and disappointment. Each character has their own troubles that they struggle with throughout the story, and the friendships they form help them to become the person they want to be.
I loved the setting for this book. It’s a quaint little English town, Chawton. I loved the descriptions as people walk down lanes or sit looking out over the landscape. It brought beautiful images to mind while I read.
The characters are sad and wonderful. My heart went out to each of them in their own way. I struggled to connect to the movie star until a few things happened to her, and then I understood a bit more about her. The other characters I felt connected to quickly. Natalie Jenner’s building of each person must have been hard. She was able to find a struggle for each that brought the entire group together, and she did it so well!
Jane Austen lovers will really enjoy the banter back and forth between the characters as they discuss their likes and dislikes, their favorite characters, and everything else Austen-related. It pops up in so many conversations, and I loved hearing why this or that character liked one of Austen’s books or writing choices.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I would have liked to see a bit more at the end, a peek into what the society would become down the road, but other than that, this was a lovely book with strong characters and a solid story.
This book contains scenes with the loss of a pregnancy, depression, loss of a loved one, and attempted rape.
To Read or Not To Read:
I would recommend The Jane Austen Society for readers that love a story about people finding ways to overcome their personal struggles. Jane Austen fans, in particular, will really enjoy the conversations about Austen’s books!
Where to Find This Book:
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner is available at these sites.
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.
Just the Facts:
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: May 26th 2020
I was provided an advanced listening copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.