Monday, June 15, 2020

Blog Tour and Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 26, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 Goodreads says, "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."

Jane Austen lived in the small town of Chawton, England for the last eight years of her life and while there, she wrote many of her memorable novels.  Fast forward many years, the quaint village of Chawton is still buzzing with life and attracting Janeites far and wide.  Readers meet many of the village inhabitants including Adeline, the village schoolteacher, who likes to challenge convention by teaching "female" novels. Then there's the village physician, Dr. Gray, who is a sad widower, but still a pillar of the community.  Then there's Adam, a farmer and secret Austen fan, and Mimi, a Hollywood actress and Jane Austen fan, who visits from America.  Lastly, there's Evie, a housemaid for the Knights. The Knights own Jane Austen's cottage and the gorgeous manor house in Chawton.  James Knight is dying and instead of leaving the estate to his only child, Frances, he decides to give it to the next male heir, which has a major ripple effect on the community.  Each member of the Chawton community is struggling with something after the war and the power of books as well as a love of Jane Austen bring them together.  Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is a heartwarming tale that Janeites will love to get lost in. 

Even though there are many characters in The Jane Austen Society, I enjoyed each and everyone.  All the characters had something they were struggling with and their appreciation of books (as well as Jane) truly made me smile.  Adeline is the character whom I felt most connected with and my heart really went out for her as the story progressed. Things were not easy for her, especially when her husband goes off to war.  Dr. Gray was also a complex character.  I loved his sophistication, the fact that he truly cared about each member of the community, and his love for books; however, he is still trying to get over the untimely death of his wife. There is a dark cloud that follows him around and combining this with something tragic that happens when he takes care of Adeline really impacts his life.  I also really enjoyed the character of Evie. I felt badly that she had to leave school despite her potential in order to make money for her family. She works for the Knights and finds herself cataloging each book in their extensive library.  While doing this, she finds some amazing Austen artifacts.  Adam comes up with a great idea to preserve Jane Austen's old cottage and shares his enthusiasm with Dr. Gray.  Despite their different backgrounds, all the characters work together towards a common goal and in turn, heal some old wounds.

The setting of Chawton was really special in The Jane Austen Society. I had the pleasure of visiting Chawton a few years ago and I really loved it.  Jenner brought it to life beautifully; I felt like I was back enjoying the gorgeous English countryside.  The quaint village, the quiet pace of life, and the caring community were all so memorable. It had me dreaming of spending a quiet afternoon in Chawton and visiting Jane Austen's House Museum.

Obviously, if you are a Jane Austen fan, you will appreciate The Jane Austen Society tremendously.  Even if you aren't a hardcore Janeite, you will enjoy this heartwarming read about a cast of characters you will end up caring about long after the story ends.  Reading The Jane Austen Society was like watching my favorite show on Masterpiece and if you know me, you know that is a huge compliment. 

Lastly, if you love audio books, do check out the audio version of The Jane Austen Society. The story is narrated by the one and only Richard Armitage, the famous English actor whom you might know from BBC's North and South as well as The Hobbit.  You can listen to an excerpt here.

So, are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you love Jane Austen inspired novels? Is this book on your summer to-read list? Let me know in the comments below. 


  1. The fact that Richard Armitage narrates this increased my interest in this book at least 10 fold!

    1. Right?? I completely agree. I hope you get to listen to the story soon. Thanks for visiting, Marg.

  2. I'm really looking forward to this one!

    1. I think you'll like it, Angela! Thanks for dropping by.


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