The Jane Austen Book Club.
The Jane Austen Book Club was the second of two books I was reading at the same time that had been adapted to film or TV (with Dead Until Dark being the first). My mistake was that I had seen BOTH of the film adapted versions before I picked up either of these books, so no matter which book I was currently reading, I was comparing it to the movie/series. Now with Dead Until Dark/”True Blood”, this faux pas didn’t really affect my reading of the book too much save that I found out things I had not yet seen Anna Paquin act out.
With The Jane Austen Book Club, however, reading this novel after seeing the movie both enhanced and detracted from my enjoyment of it. The book was enhanced because I felt that the movie had done such a good job casting chracters that I had clear pictures in my head of each book club member the entire read. However, I felt like I missed out on some of the pleasure of discovering all of the literary elements of the book. Maybe this is because (gasp!) I have never fully delved into all of Austen’s works and therefore felt a bit left out of the club, and maybe this is because I’d already enjoyed a lot of the allusions and inside jokes during the movie.
As I’m not feeling overly introspective today, I’d like to say that this is a solidly good book that is in many ways an ode to not only Austen, but readers and book clubs everywhere. It’s smart without taking itself to seriously, and while it has depth and symbolism, it’s equally enjoyable to readers who only want to read about a group of women reading “All Austen All the Time.” And while the “we” voice of the unnamed narrator who would jump in every now and again bothered me at times (I think I’m a little tired of the unidentified “we” after all my Apartment Therapy reading- it gets pretentious), eventually I came to see it as an invitation from Fowler to fully become part of her group of readers and revisit the timelessness of Austen’s novels, as well as Alicia Silverstone as Cher in “Clueless.”