The move is complete. New apartment is unpacked, complete with my brand new bookcase that is filled to the brim. Thanks to some very uncharacteristically drizzly weather this week I have been able to put in some solid reading time. Winter is coming and I think I’ve timed this all pretty perfectly so that I’m ready to pull down some new books and curl up under a blanket.
So first to come off the shelf was The Jane Austen Book Club. Found for $2 at a second hand book sale, how can you go wrong? This is why I love searching through the book sales. Now, admittedly, I haven’t read all of the Jane Austen books yet. I got 4 books in to my all-in-one collection before the pages started to fall out and decided to give it a break. However, I figured I had read enough to be able to follow along without getting too lost.
The story is about 6 mismatched friends that are brought together by their love of Austen – or ‘Jane’, to some – and form a book club. The book is broken apart in to chapters for each month and book. Each book is hosted by a different member of the group and through this we learn each characters history and secrets.
We are introduced one by one to Sylvia – recent divorcee who is trying to recover and get her life back in order, Allegra – Sylvia’s dare devilish lesbian daughter, Jocelyn – Sylvia’s best and oldest friend, Prudie – the slightly snobbish French obsessed high school teacher, Bernadette – the older, wild at heart free spirit and Grigg – the new, out of place, eager to please token male.
Delving in to the backgrounds of each person we discover more details that reveal them to be more complex than what originally appears. Sylvia and Jocelyn share a tangled past, meeting and swapping their high school sweethearts, which leads to a marriage and children – and ultimately divorce – for Sylvia and a lonely dog driven life for Jocelyn. Always looking out for everyone else, Jocelyn seems to let her own love life fall by the wayside, however, as the book progresses we see her slowly starting to open up to new ideas. We follow Allegra on her journey to find something more in her life through a series of dangerous stunts like skydiving, rock climbing and complicated and seemingly doomed from the start relationships. Bernadette tells hilarious and shocking stories of her youth which no one can determine as fact or fiction. Prudie leads an unfulfilled life, with dreams of living in Paris with a passion filled husband, she is left struggling to accept her mediocre marriage and a career as a high school French teacher. Last of all is Grigg, an Austen virgin who is thrown in this group of devote Austenites, eager to read and learn and to love as much as his fellow readers. Grigg, growing up in a family full of girls feels completely at home when in fact he is a complete outsider. His loveable traits make him a big hit between the women and he tries desperately to pursue a romance.
This book was a funny and light-hearted story however, I did feel that at times the Austen did get lost amongst the other characters. Also, with a lot of references to storylines and characters, I wouldn’t recommend reading The Book Club without having read at least a couple of Austen’s works. This one is definitely worth a read though if you’re looking for something light. Let me know what you thought….