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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Book Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

I first joined The Jane Austen Society in my senior year old college. I knew it had a long history, but I never thought about its founding. This is a highly, highly fictionalized story about that (in fact, it's completely made up. Nothing is based on real people or anything.) And it's delightful.

A group of unrelated and unlikely Jane Austen fans meet in Chawton, England. They get together multiple times. The last Austen relative is childless and funds have been dwindling and she's going to lose the estate to developers. The library, which might have important information about Austen hidden in it, will go along with the house. A movie star has bought a couple of pieces of Austen memorabilia. A local doctor and a housemaid are also drawn in to the group. They band together, and in order to collect Jane Austen's things before it's too late and they're all gone, and also to try to save her house, they form a society to raise money and have ownership.

Naturally along the way there are some romances, misunderstandings, monetary problems, and other twists and turns. It's a fun story about a beloved author and the beginnings of our understanding of her as one of the all-time greatest authors in history, and how preserving her life and letters and home can help us come to a greater understanding of why she is so important to so many of us.

This book is published by St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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