BOOK DESCRIPTION: Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook as provided by the publisher! And what an audiobook!
NARRATED BY ACTOR RICHARD ARMITAGE:
The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).
Link to YouTube audiobook excerpt: https://youtu.be/OJ1ACJluRi8
Here's my review:
I think the cover of The Jane Austen Society is a perfect preface for what to expect from this gentle story. Perhaps it’s the rapid loss of The Greatest Generation, but stories set during the period between WW1 and the 1950s draw a lot of interest. While certainly full of issues, maybe we think there was a bit more to admire about an era where ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ wore hats and gloves for a trip into town.
As you’d expect, Natalie Jenner’s debut novel immerses the reader in an England after the war, as we meet the cast of characters perfectly drawn as a fictional ‘team’ determined to celebrate and save a hint of Chawton village Jane Austen would have recognized, and to promote what she brought to the literary world.
The story takes time. Don’t expect to rush through it. Expect instead to be reminded of how pain and loss can be overcome with time, and how the support of good people helps. Along the way, you’ll enjoy how devotees of Austen’s stories found relevance in their own lives. You don’t have to be familiar with the novels, but it certainly enhances the enjoyment.
If there wasn’t change or conflict, we wouldn’t have much of a story, so you won’t like all the characters. One pair in particular are a little rough (language alert), and one heartbreaking event occurs. But doesn’t that make it all the better as the story ends in a very satisfying manner? People grow and mature, heal and find their way with proper nurturing. A good lesson right now.
I received the audiobook from the publisher, so, while I might not read the physical book a second time, I know I’ll listen to it again. And maybe again over the years. Even if I didn’t know who Richard Armitage is, I’d give his narration a full thumbs up.
Overall, consider The Jane Austen Society as the perfect rainy weekend read.
Note: Book is for the general market and is not Christian Fiction.
AMAZON | BARNES and NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | AUDIBLE | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB
“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)
“Few things draw disparate people together so quickly as discovering they love the same writers. Few writers cement such friendships as deeply as Austen does. I believe that the readers of Jenner’s book will fall in love with the readers inside Jenner’s book, all of us thinking and dreaming of Austen the whole while. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what! A wonderful book, a wonderful read.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/y9r2rdms The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman.
Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.
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· An Amazon Best Book of May 2020
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· One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
· June 2020 Indie Next Pick
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· Starred Review - Library Journal
· Starred Review - Booklist
**and kudos to Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose Blog for organizing this amazing blog tour!