The Jane Austen Society
By Natalie Jenner
Reviewed by Meilee Anderson
I read “The Jane Austen Society” based on a recommendation from a few ladies in my reading group. The book made me smile. It’s a pleasant novel, my first by Natalie Jenner.
The story takes place just after WWII in a small English village. People from the village, a laborer, a young widow, a young house maid, a local barrister, and the local doctor come together along with a movie star from the US all come together in an effort to preserve the legacy of Jane Austen and her works. The town laborer and doctor are both men. The widow, house made, and celebrity are women.
The team comes together in an unlikely but entertaining way. The idea of men being so transfixed by Jane Austen and her characters amused me endlessly. I’ve never known any men to be so enchanted by Austen or her works. Not to say they aren’t out there…I just haven’t met them.
The laborer was my favorite character. He was slow to speak and wasn’t a man of many words, but when he did speak, I enjoyed his dialogue. The doctor and barrister are both a bit predictably stuffy nonetheless I smiled frequently as their characters developed. There’s a glamorous celebrity who sweeps in and steals the show but it’s the house maid that kept my attention. The young house maid is keenly underestimated, yet she plays an integral part of the society’s plans.
While the society members have different backgrounds, their mutual affection for Jane Austen (and eventually each other) forms a strong bond that manifests in surprising ways. I found this story light, airy, and relaxing. “The Jane Austen Society” was a welcome distraction during these stressful times. Listening to this audiobook was an escape, similar to watching episodes of Downton Abby.
“The Jane Austen Society” audiobook is read by Richard Armitage and is 10-hours long. Richard has a deep voice; he reads the female characters dialogue a bit on the breathy side but overall, he’s got a great timbre to his reading.
It’s been more than 10 years since I last read a book by Jane Austen. One doesn’t need to be an Austen scholar to enjoy this book. I found myself wanting to go back and reread all of Austen’s works. I’d like to go back and spend time with Elizabeth Bennet, Mary Crawford, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Knightly but alas, my to-read list is long and I don’t always take the time to reread classics.
Speaking of my to-read list, I’m currently reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” it’s another beautiful story. I’ll get back to it. I hope you are able to take time to find escape, adventure, and entertainment amidst the pages of a good book. I hope you’re able to take time to listen to great stories. These are crazy times and a good book can be a friend, teacher, entertainer and solid companion.
Happy reading folks.
Buy it here