Just published: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel by [Natalie Jenner]I was very excited to receive an e galley of this title; I knew that I wanted to read this book from the moment that I learned of its existence.

I have been reading a number of Jane Austen related works lately including Emma and The Other Bennett Sister. Furthermore, this book looked like it would appeal to those who enjoyed The Chilbury Ladies Choir, Dear Mrs. Bird and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, all of which I read and enjoyed. So…did the book live up to my hopes?
Yes, it did!
This novel tells the stories of a number of characters who were impacted by WWI and are living in the 1930s when the story begins. The characters either live in Chawton or spend time there. As savvy readers know, Jane Austen lived in this village.
Each of the main characters has a compelling back story and all have struggled in some way. Characters include a farmer, an actress, a very smart domestic worker, the owner of a home with ties to the Austens, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher and more. Each is beautifully portrayed and is multi-dimensional.
The characters are brought together through their love of Austen. One of the pleasures of this book was the observations on Austen’s works and the influence and impact of her novels on the protagonists. Another delight in the book is the way in which the village comes to life.
This book is not filled with the kinds of actions that one finds in thrillers. Rather, it is a novel that takes its time. Readers will find that they are amply rewarded for staying with this gently paced novel. I recommend it highly.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review. Note that this is Ms. Jenner’s first novel; I sincerely hope that it will not be her last!

Other opinions:

“Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner’s first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships…Readers won’t need previous knowledge of Austen and her novels to enjoy this tale’s slow revealing of secrets that build to a satisfying and dramatic ending.” ―Booklist (starred review)

“Readers who enjoy character-driven novels will want to read this book. Like Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, it’s a must-purchase for libraries of all sizes.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“Delightful… Jenner’s immersive character development is juxtaposed against her study of Austen’s characters, providing clever insight into how the trials of Austen’s life were revealed through her books.” ―Publishers Weekly

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