Say it like you mean it

The Patron Saint of LiarsDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Book: The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler
Start Date: 06/23
End Date: 06/26

I’m always a little wary of books that tackle Austen. I can’t help but compare them to the real thing. Which is decidedly unfair of course, as they almost always fall short. But this was a gift from Sam so I’m happily making my way through it. Just a few pages into it so it’s too soon to say much about it.

Updated [6/26]

The best part about this book is trying to figure out which moments and characters are inspired by Austen books. There were some that were unbelivably easy to pick out, like the ex-husband who might as well have been named Wickham. But as fun as it was, it wasn’t easy. Mostly because, though I’ve read every Austen book, finished and unfinished, it’s been a while since I’ve reread them. With the exception of Pride and Prejudice of course. That I reread constnantly.

There’s a moment in the book when one of the bookclub members admits to never having read P&P. The rest of the club is stunned. I can relate to that feeling. I love this book so it’s hard for me to comprehend that a)some people have never read it and b)that some people actually don’t like it. Unlike the characters in the book, who, I think, would choose to not socialize with someone who dislikes any Austen book, but especially Pride and Prejudice, I still talk to someone who tells me they don’t care for it, but I do feel a little confused by it. What’s not to like? The writing is fantastic, the characters well thought out and the ending, quite happy. I never tire of reading it, each time I find something new to ponder about.

The ladies in the book club are much for ardent fans of Austen than I ever could be I fear. They actually found good things to say about Mansfield Park, which is my least favorite Austen. I find Fanny Price to be insuffarable and if it hadn’t been for the fact that I’d fallen in love with Austen and wanted to read everything and anything written by her, I never, ever would have tortured myself with this book. The writing is still good, don’t get me wrong, but the heroine inspires no sympathy from me and it galls me that she ends up happy. I’d rather she’d contracted a long, slow and painfull disease.

A few months back I walked into the kitchen at work just as someone was saying, “Don’t let Patricia hear you say that.” I natuarlly asked what I wasn’t supposed to hear. “S. just read Mansfield Park and she didn’t like it.”—Neither do I, I said. The coworker blinked, surprised that I would speak ill of an Austen book. But I redeemed myself somewhat it seems. After I ticked off everything I didn’t like the book I finished with, “it may be my least favorite Austen, but even a bad Austen book is better than most of what qualifies as literature nowadays.”

All in all, I liked The Jane Austen Book Club. It’s inspired me to reread the Austen books (in the order they were written this time). Any book that accomplishes that is a good book in my eyes.

Posted on 06/23 at 06:29 PM


i liked mansfield park.
not as much as say, pride and prejudice, or persuasion (which i thought the first chaper was tedious the first three times i tried to read it, but LOVED afterward), i think because i could relate to fanny. i dont have cousins like that or uncles or aunts like that. but still. i could relate. maybe one facet of myself is a “fanny kindred”

Posted by anne  on  09/05  at  07:09 PM

I’m with you on Pride and Prejudice.  When I escaped from an abusive husband at 19, I had a knapsack with a change of clothes and a hard back copy of Pride and Prejudice.  I read it every few years and it never fails to delight.  I found this book light and fun to read - I enjoyed all the conversations about Austen.

Posted by twyla  on  04/24  at  07:02 PM

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