I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner from NetGalley. This is the author’s debut novel, and I’m happy to report: this is an author I will be watching.
The Jane Austen Society
I am an admirer of Jane Austen for what she did in history. Her writing is remarkable, yes. Her wit, superb. But as a historian, I marvel at Ms. Austen for what she accomplished in a period of time engineered to keep her down.
She not only defied the system built to control her, she snubbed her nose at it through her cuttingly accurate writing. As a fellow writer, I commend her.
This book took everything I knew about Austen and turned it on its head. Jenner’s grasp of Austen history is astounding and makes for an enjoyable read.
Write It Again
I had a professor in college who would tell us to write our papers, and then without using references, write it again from your heart. This has always stuck with me, because it showed a level of understand beyond the text.
That’s what Jenner has accomplished here.
She’s taken the history of Austen and woven it into a story that swallows us whole.
Picture it. The village of Chawton, your quintessential English village, with the village doctor, farmer, and former teacher. Throw in a reclusive ancestor of a literary legend and a movie star of Hollywood’s Golden Era, and you have me as a lifelong fan.
The cast was riddled with all the tropes you’d expect to make a story set in an English village work, but Jenner took it deeper.
This was actually what I loved most about this book and why I’ll be watching Jenner’s work. She kept surprising me with her characters. When I thought I had their stereotypical cut outs mastered, she threw me a curve ball.
Each character had a unique challenge. Each character had a startling secret that left me flipping electronic pages. I ate them up and wanted to know more about their stories, where they came from, and where they were going.
I wanted even more.
The One Caveat
There’s head hopping. I couldn’t tell if this was intentional based on Austen’s own writing style with the omniscient narrator, but it was a little jarring. It didn’t stop me from loving the book, but just know it’s in there.
I don’t read books about dogs for obvious reasons, so I like to point out potential trigger issues for readers.
In The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner you will find:
- Sexual assault
- Discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation
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This was a fun read with a cast characters I wanted to have tea with. If you are a Jane Austen fan or enjoy quaint English village stories, don’t miss this one releasing May 26, 2020 from St. Martin’s Press.