A review by Emma Streeton
The Jane Austen Society takes place in 1940s England. A group of vastly different people are brought together by their love of Jane Austen. Together they attempt something remarkable. To fight and save the home where Jane Austen once lived and continue her legacy. Although on the outside this band of Austen enthusiasts could not be more different, they each endure their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma. Together they unite and form the Jane Austen Society. Together they learn how to love and live again.
The Jane Austen Society is the first published novel by Natalie Jenner and what a gem she produced. However, I do think that to have a full appreciation of the book it really helps to be a Jane Austen fan or be familiar with her most famous work. There are a lot of quotes from Austen’s novels and a fair bit of referencing to her characters. If Austen is not recognizable to you then this may cause some confusion.
Homage to Austen
There is a lot to like about The Jane Austen Society. It pays worthy recognition to a great author and, like Austen, Jenner has created some memorable and lovable characters. The members of the society all have very different stories that are gradually revealed as the story unfolds. It is through their love of Austen’s fiction that they find common ground and friendship. Jenner also provides the reader opportunity to get to know each of the members as individuals. Her character development as the novel progresses is a real highlight. Another highlight for me was the interplay between Adeline Grover and Benjamin Gray. It was so reminiscent of Austen’s romantic interplays and provides the reader with that ‘will they, won’t they’ conundrum.
Jenner clearly has huge love and appreciation for Jane Austen. She has masterfully weaved in parts of genuine Austen history with her own fiction to great effect. There is quite an emphasis on the healing power of Austen’s words. And, without a doubt, this novel is likely to inspire any reader, new or familiar, to delve into an Austen classic.
The concept of this book is a real winner. It is a heartwarming, gently paced story that is sure to delight many readers. It is a perfect book to pick up and keep you cosy this winter. For any Austen fans among us, I highly recommend The Jane Austen Society as your next read. 4 out of 5 stars.
If you enjoy this novel I highly recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Category: historical fiction, romance