Welcome back to book club! Admittedly, choosing The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner for book club this month was a weird pick for me. I don’t think Natalie had a twenty-four-year-old guy in mind when she wrote this book. And if I’m candid, I didn’t pick this book. It’s been on my TBR (to be read) list since its publication, but the only reason I finally got around to reading it is that my best friend’s fiance, Linsi, wants to read more books this year, and I told her I’d read alongside her. Also, I took a Jane Austen class in college and thought that I could enjoy the little easter eggs in the book that pertain to Jane Austen. (I may have caught 15% of them.)
The Jane Austen Society is a love letter to Jane Austen. You can tell how much Natalie Jenner loved reading Jane Austen. And while there were some pacing issues and the number of characters could get distracting at points, this novel was a fun read. It also plays out the best fantasy for book lovers ever. Could you imagine getting together with people who share the same love for a favorite author or series?
I know Harry Potter has a cult-like following along with Star Wars, Marvel, and Lord of the Rings, but there is something cozier when it comes to the group of people we follow through the story of The Jane Austen Society. My dream is to have a book club like it, but my friends would much rather watch and binge an anime series than read an eight hundred-page epic fantasy book. (I am starting to get them all to read The Beginning After the End, which is a nice start to my dream actualizing.)
And like I mentioned above, there were some pacing issues, and I got lost in some of the character perspectives and how many there were, but no book is perfect. (Except for the Count of Monte Cristo. Truly the only perfect book in my mind with a few that are close behind.) But instead of complaining about the things I didn’t like, I’ll talk about the two major things I loved in this novel.
Sometimes you run into an author whose prose is like letting someone scratch the itch on your back you can’t quite reach. We all have different people who do it for us. My list is scattered, and the styles aren’t similar at all, but they all get me there. My list is as follows for those curious: Hemingway, Alexandre Dumas, Rick Riordan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael Chabon, and now, Natalie Jenner.
There is a reason Jenner’s novel was a finalist in Goodreads’ 2020 Choice Awards for both the Best Historical Novel and the Best Debut novel. Outside of the story that she tells, I’ll get to in a second. Jenner enthralls the reader in the way she writes. Her sentence structure, word choice, comma usage, and everything else play into the narrative that she writes. I loved it. It feels like I was spying into the intimate moments of the characters’ lives like a fly on the wall. Jenner truly knows how to piece together a fantastic scene.
The Slow Burn
I’m a sucker for a good romance. I want to read a story that gives me butterflies. It’s what makes the Heroes of Olympus series so good. Percy jumping into literal hell to save Annabeth is a top 3 fictional moment of all time for me. It’s why I love Rhysand and Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses. (No man will ever measure up to Rhysand, and I blame Sarah J. Maas for any unhealthy expectations people may now have because of her characters.)
Jenner gives us a slow-burn romance that feels new in its old and slow stance on romance. Everyone is always in a rush to be swept away in the grandeur of romance nowadays. Turn the tv on and watch a RomCom or read a modern romance novel and you can easily see what I’m talking about here. But with Jenner’s romance, you follow a young widow and a doctor as their love for Jane Austen brings them closer together. But what makes this romance so well written is that it isn’t about shallow and excessive characteristics that others use to describe a person. Instead, the characters’ romance is about substance and highlighting the unique quirks of each other to allow the other to shine brighter. While also wanting the other person to be happy at whatever the cost.
My Rating for The Jane Austen Society
3.5 out of five feel-good moments
My Final Thoughts
If you love Jane Austen, a good romance, or enjoy good writing, then you should give The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner a read. It was a nice change of pace to the books I usually read. Sometimes the world doesn’t need to be at stake to feel like a purpose behind the narrative and its plot. I genuinely loved and enjoyed this book in a way that I haven’t enjoyed in a long time. And I am excited to read her new book coming out later this year called Bloomsbury Girls. Don’t be surprised if it shows up as a book club pick later this year.