“[Adam] saw Elizabeth as the lynchpin to the entire Bennet family, the one whose boldness and emotional intelligence was keeping her own family from the brink. But she never flaunted herself as a saviour – she just loved so thoroughly, and so wisely, that the saving of others was the inevitable result.”
In the small village of Chawton, England in the era around World War II, a small group of misfits obsessed with the work of Jane Austen works to built a society to commemorate their town’s most famous resident, and in the meantime learn about the enduring power of the author. This heartwarming story emphasizes how a charming group of characters overcome multiple obstacles by growing together as they also grow in determination to save the cottage where Austen wrote during her final years. This historical fiction debut is a gem for all fans of Jane Austen or British countryside novels.
Ratings & Reviews
- Book Grade: A-
- This book has sweet characters and lots of charm. There are loads of references to Jane Austen’s novels, so this is perfect for anyone hoping to remember some of their favorite books, but enough details to engage new Austen fans too. I appreciated that each character revealed who they really were as the cast came to better understand themselves and each other through the lens of Jane Austen’s writing. There are gentle twists and turns in the plot line, but some plot elements were a bit too convenient. Natalie Jenner admits that she was inspired by historical events and took liberties, but she weaves in enough factual content to make this book totally engaging and informative. Overall, this book was a sweet indulgence and I zipped through it.
- Movie Rating: PG
- This book is pretty tame with lots of gentle characters. There are hints of intimacy between two characters (with a quick bedroom scene) and there is a brief, but frank, discussion of the treatment of homosexuals from a historical perspective (very informative). This book avoids taking a political stance and largely reads like a quaint BBC miniseries with all the quirks and charms of a small village.
- Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes
- I have a number of Jane Austen fans in my high school library, so this is a perfect fit for them. My mostly-female Austen fan club loves learning about the author and fancies any British reads that bring her to life. Readers of sweet and subtle romance stories could also be fans of The Jane Austen Society. If your readers prefer something a bit more action packed, this might not be a worthwhile investment.
Book Talk Questions
- Natalie Jenner makes multiple references to the shifting popularity in Austen memorabilia during the era in which the book was set. How is this explained and how is this shown over the course of the novel?
- Adam learns something about himself and makes a life altering decision based upon the group’s input. Would you have asked the society if you were in his shoes? Do you agree with his decision?
- Miss Frances chooses to tell Mimi something on the day of her wedding. Explain their conversation. Did she have to do what she did (and when she did it)?
- Adeline finally understands why the doctor had to hire Liberty. What was his reasoning?
- Which character grew the most from the establishment of the society? Explain your thinking.
A Perfect Read for Fans of…
- Pride and Prejudice
- Prom & Prejudice
- Darcy Swipes Left
- Color Me Jane