The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
The Jane Austen Society is the debut novel from Natalie Jenner, published by Orion Books.
Just a few months after the Second World War finished, the small English country village of Chawton is struggling to get back to some sort of normality. The one person who pulls the community is Jane Austen, the world-renowned author who wrote several of her most famous works in the small village, and whose former home occasionally brings tourists from across the world. Each one of them is misunderstood or suffering from a loss of some sort, and they come together to create The Jane Austen Society, with a mission to preserve Jane Austen’s cottage as a museum and preserve it for future generations to cherish and enjoy.
The novel pulls together a local teacher, doctor, a scullery maid, a Hollywood starlet, and a father and daughter who are Jane Austen descendants. They all battle with the struggles of the time; loss, sexism, unrequited love and class restrictions. However, I think Adeline, the teacher and Dr Grey’s relationship will be a highlight to many, as it most closely reflects a slow-burning Jane Austen storyline. They have a certain chemistry but romance isn’t simple as Adeline is a pregnant widow and Dr Grey has a reputation to protect.
I was provided with a copy of the audiobook to the review by Orion Books which is read by the actor Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, The Stranger) and his calm clear voice is a perfect choice. I did find it slightly difficult to keep up with the timeframes via audiobook as they’re mentioned at the beginning of the chapters but I have this problem with books too, it’s just easier to flip back and double-check in a paper format.
If the world feels too much right now and all you want is a reassuringly cosy read, then The Jane Austen Society might well be the perfect escapism you’re looking for. Although you can enjoy this novel without knowing too much about Jane Austen, it certainly adds a lot more to the experience and will help you relate to the characters if you’ve read her most famous works. The leisurely pace means it takes a while for the overall plot to unfurl, but when it does, the motivations of the characters come to life.
If you fancy a literary loving cosy read inspired by the works of Jane Austen, then The Jane Austen Society is perfect for you.
If you like The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, you’ll love The Lovely City by Louise Hare.