I have decided to dedicate one post (at least) a month to different books I come across that I absolutely love.
The first one, for August (my favorite month!) is The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler.
This was a fantastic book! I loved it so much!
It was packed with Jane Austen everything. The ways we relate to her and her incredible novels, the different things that we hate about her books that make us feel disloyal even thinking about because, obviously, it's Austen, and the love/hate relationship we have with Jane Austen.
It seems really incredible to me that Austen wrote all of these detailed plots and characters, and that a couple hundred years later, we're thinking some of the same exact things about our relationships!
We're annoyed by the super cute guy who thinks he's too good for us, but secretly, he adores us (we wish and hope and dream and pray).
We want to date that one guy, but we think he's totally out of our social class. Example: the book nerd with the huge crush on the jock. Ugh. Been there. Visited multiple times. Bought property.
And it even applies to our family life - getting along with siblings, dealing with our parents and their extremely high hopes for us, and feeling totally left behind and out of the family loop, at times. Jane Austen, somehow, realized that things wouldn't change with the years. She's a genius.
However, that is not to say that I don't have some issues with some of her books. I felt guilty for years finding problems with them, though. Who am I to dislike Austen? After reading The Jane Austen Book Club, though, I felt so much more at ease with my opinions. Yes, I want Marianne to end up with Willoughby! Yes, I think Fanny Price is sometimes too perfect! And yes, I sometimes wonder what in the world Jane Austen was thinking while she wrote Northanger Abbey!
But, just like best friends, we look past the arguments and issues we have with Austen because we love and adore her work. It's that simple. She is romance.
It truly is a love/hate relationship between Austen and her avid readers. We love most of the romances in her books; we crave the dashing suitors that she created; we wait for the happily ever after in each of our relationships because that is what her books encourage. Have you noticed that are a limited number of men in her novels? It isn't like now; you didn't go on dates every week with a different boy, testing them out. You had one or two, and you were courted. And in the Austen books, a happily ever after was made. That's the issue. That's the one thing that I don't believe can span the gap of years between us and Austen. We don't get a happily ever after every time. It's just not realistic.
I really like this quote from The Jane Austen Book Club. Karen Joy Fowler writes:
"It wasn't Jane Austen's fault that love went bad. You couldn't even say she didn't warn you. Her heroines made out well enough, but there were always other characters in the book who didn't finish happily - Brandon's Eliza in Sense and Sensability; in Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Lucas, Lydia Bennet; in Mansfield Park, Maria Bertram. These were the women to whom you should be paying attention, but you weren't."
I just really, really enjoyed this book. I might just go read it again to catch all of the things I missed. Or maybe just go watch the movie.
I highly suggest that you read it for yourself, especially if you have an extreme love of Jane Austen. One way to tell if you are a Jane Austen fanatic, by the way, is if you cry every time you watch Becoming Jane. I know I do! If you have yet to be pulled into the Jane Austen fan club, The Jane Austen Book Club is still an excellent read. Just trust me.