*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Jane Austen Society, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas, and discussion questions in that order!
If you love British novels, especially feel-good ones, then The Jane Austen Society is just your type of book. Set in post WWII England, the book takes place in the small village of Chawton.
You might recognize Chawton as it was one of the places Jane Austen lived during her lifetime.
The book fictionalizes the attempt to secure Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton along with some of her things for historical purposes. Which by the way, is a real place. You can check it out HERE!
If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you’ll love that the characters in this novel are too and her works are referenced throughout the novel. In fact, you might catch a few similarities between the characters in this novel and those of Miss Austen.
I really loved this book. It was a light, fun read that was deepened by all the Austen mentions and parallels.
I read this novel around the same time that I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (finally!). If you loved that novel, you’ll most likely love The Jane Austen Society as well.
Even though it isn’t an epistolary novel like Guernsey, The Jane Austen Society had a very similar feel. Post WWII England, small villagers rallying for a cause, literary influences, etc.
I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for The Jane Austen Society, so if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!
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Here’s a brief summary of The Jane Austen Society:
From the Publisher: “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.”
For The Jane Austen Society Food Ideas:
Because there are so many characters and so much happening in the novel, there wasn’t a lot of time for the characters to eat. Still, there were a few scenes and you might be able to pull something from this list.
Here are a few of the food ideas from the pages of The Jane Austen Society:
- Chapter 15 – Christmas at the Knight estate – sugar plums, rum balls, mince pies, oranges, claret, champagne, mulled wine
- Chapter 17 – Jack and Mimi visit Frances about the cottage – coffee and walnut cake and a Victorian sponge cake with strawberry preserves and honey
- Chapter 20 – Mimi visits with Frances and Evie and Evie tells Mimi about the society – glazed lemon cake
Even though there isn’t a lot of food mentioned in the book, one of these choices would be great or you can check out Jane Austen’s favorite cake that I featured HERE. Based on a letter to her sister and the house recipe at the time, it’s sure to be a hit with your book club!
Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for The Jane Austen Society!
The Jane Austen Society Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- Each character relates to a different Jane Austen character. Which Jane Austen character do you most relate to or like? Why?
- Why do you think that Frances is so passive about the direction her life takes? Did you admire her acceptance of circumstances or did it frustrate you? Which Austen character did she remind you of?
- Mimi Harrison is a movie star from America and quite different than the other characters from Chawton. Why do you think the author included her character? What did she add to the Society besides her money?
- What did you think of Adam Berwick? Although the novel starts with him, he remains somewhat quiet throughout the middle of the novel, only stepping to center stage again when his paternity comes to light. Did you want to see more of him? How did you feel about his decision and how it affected the Society?
- Even though Evie Stone is forced to leave school to help her family, she makes the best of an unfortunate situation. As noted in Chapter 23, “she made space for discovery in the midst of a most contained life.” Is there any history near you that you’ve neglected while longing for a more exciting locale? Discuss visiting a local historical site and learning more about the history right where you live.
- Or, do you live in a tourist location and, like Mr. Knight, do you dislike the tourist traffic? If so, has this novel changed your feelings at all?
- Did you expect Adam and Mimi to end up together? Did their fates surprise you?
- Did you catch the reference to Emma when Dr. Gray says he would love to see Adeline’s reading list for Evie’s father? In chapter 4, Dr. Gray mentions that Mr. Knightley kept Emma’s reading list, a hint to his love for her and a clue to Dr. Gray’s feelings for Adeline as well. Discuss other subtle parallel plot points to Austen’s works that you noticed.
- What facts about Jane Austen’s life do you know that you would like to share with the group? Share as many as time allows.
- Natalie Jenner’s next book will follow Evie Stone onto her next adventure. Will you read it as a group? What other books similar to The Jane Austen Society can you recommend to the group?
Have you read The Jane Austen Society? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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