Sunday, 13 September 2009

I've just finished reading...

Yes.. another one already! "The Jane Austen Book Club", by Karen Joy Fowler.

I have seen the movie, and really enjoyed it (I even bought the DVD). I'm always a bit dubious when I read a book after seeing the movie version. I nearly always like the book a lot better, which ruins the movie for me. And if I've read the book first, chances are the movie will really annoy me. SO it's always a big gamble for me. And it's impossible for me to not compare the two.

In the case of this book, the book and movie complement each other fairly well. I actually think the movie characters were a bit more loveable. Although they have totally turned around a number of character's personalities and traits, which was kind of weird (For example, the movie gave a much more flattering portrayal of Bernadette than the book; in the movie she is my favourite character, in the book she's my least favourite.).

For those who haven't seen the movie (or read the book), it follows a group who have formed a bookclub (5 women, 1 man) over six months as they read through Jane Austen's six novels. They meet monthly to discuss the novels, and meanwhile the book explores aspects of the group member's lives. Each group member is dealing with various struggles in their lives (adultery, falling in love, sexuality, life changes, separation from a spouse etc.).
1. Jocelyn, a single, 50-somthing woman who breeds dogs and lives alone
2. Sylvia, 50-something woman whose husband of over 30 years has just left her
3. Allegra, Late 20's, Sylvia's daughter. Is a lesbian, and needs everybody to know so. Has a tumultuous love-life.
4. Bernadette, 60-something, married many times, slightly eccentric.
5. Prudie, 20-something French teacher, married, had a weird childhood and is still adjusting.
6. Grigg, the only male. In the book he is in his 40's but is portrayed much younger in the movie. He's a tech-geek, and has never read Austen before - while everyone else are HUGE fans.

Each book club member is meant to reflect a Jane Austen character from each book. Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes not.

I didn't like the way the author wrote from the point of view of the whole group, "We suspected a hidden a genre"; "Jocelyn handpicked us..". So not from the viewpoint of one specific character, and I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out who was 'talking'. In some instances I also found the writing a bit disjointed. Like if I tried to write a sentence like that in Microsoft Word, a little green line would appear and tell me that it was a fragment sentence.

I will be interested to read one of her other books, one which I won't have any pre-conceived ideas about, so that I can judge her writing more fairly.

The book was quite enjoyable, a fairly easy read. There are aspects of the book that I like better than the movie (like the fact that Prudie is not seriously contemplating having an affair with her student, and that her husband is not a total jerk) and it also gave a lot more background information (of course) about all the storylines.

It left me with a real hankering to (re)read Jane Austen's wonderful books.

I recommend it, and don't think that you'll be too dissapointed whether you read the book or watch the movie first. I think I liked the movie better. Which is unusual for me.

[next I'm reading "The Sweetheart Season" also by Karen Joy Fowler.]

1 comment:

  1. "if I tried to write a sentence like that in Microsoft Word, a little green line would appear and tell me that it was a fragment sentence."

    Hahahahahaha. I love it. :-D


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