First, I would like to personally thank Natalie Jenner, because it’s pretty obvious this book was written just for me. 😉
What it’s about:
From the Goodreads blurb:
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.
So, it ticks off some of the boxes I look for in a really good book:
- Historical fiction
- Multiple POVs
- Little bit of romance
- Set in a little English village
PLUS, it’s all about people who, like me, love Jane Austen and can endlessly reread and discuss her books.
I love the characters in this book! We really have 8 mains and each of them are well drawn and fascinating for their own reasons. They each have a unique voice, and all are going through their own difficulties, but they are brought together by their love of Jane’s novels and their mutual desire to preserve what they can of her history in Chawton. I personally saw so many parallels between the main characters and Austen’s famous characters. There’s a little bit of Emma and Knightly here, a lot of Lizzie Bennet (and her Wickham!), and even some Captain Wentworth and Anne.
As a card-carrying Janeite, I obviously loved the many references to Austen’s novels and characters. Some of my favorite parts of this book were the Society members talking Austen. Each character is dealing with their own loss or struggle, and it’s heartwarming how they each read Austen to help them through.
The writing is lovely, and the story flows along nicely. I was crying happy tears at the end of the book. I listened to the audiobook specifically because it’s read by Richard Armitage—if you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to this man read a book to you, I strongly encourage you to remedy that situation as soon as possible—and he did not disappoint.
The Jane Austen Society may not have been written just for me, but it was definitely written by an Austen fan for Austen fans. No matter what, ‘one can always read Austen.’ And thank goodness for that!