Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Jane Austen Book Club

After reading Karen Joy Fowler's novel The Jane Austen Book Club, I can see why this proved to be a breakout book for the author and popular with book clubs. It's witty--Fowler has a unique voice--and of course, it is (duh) about a book club.

Told in third person POV, we spend time in the mind of each character, who are all connected through the monthly meetings and discussions of Jane Austen. Very clever structure, too: the meetings often begin, briefly, in first person plural ("We really could not approve of someone who showed up with an obviously new book, of someone who had the complete novels on his lap when only Emma was under discussion. Whenever he first spoke, whatever he said, one of us would have to put him in his place"), before narrowing down to one character's point of view and backstory, told in "close" third person POV. Occasionally, a character addresses the group in an extended scene/flashback told in first-person POV ("I took up tap and ballet at Miss Olive's. I was the best dancer there, which didn't mean squat, but gave Mother ideas"...)
All of which provides a seamless, multifaceted look at this constellation of characters.

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