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Ceridwen

Ceridwen

You kids get off my lawn. 

The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler I remember reading "The Club Dumas" by What's His Name (too lazy to look it up) and thinking, "What the hell is going on?" This is because I was too lazy to read the books referred to by the obvious titular intertext. Thankfully, with this one, I have read the obvious titular intertexts, so I wasn't at sea.

The book follows the six members of a book club as they read through the six novels by Jane Austen; juvenalia need not apply. Each section is more or less a character study of the person hosting the evening. There's some very nice little stories about people's pasts, the way they work, what they think about when they're alone. As befitting a story riffing on Austen, some observations are very funny in a very low key way. There's not a whole heck of a lot of plot: people change, but often the big revelations seem to occur off stage. I guess a book about people reading Austen could go that way. "At that moment, I never knew myself," et al.

The nice thing is that there's no obvious Austen rip-offs, or horrible modernizations. Col. Whomever doesn't return from the, uh, Gulf War after being spurned by Carrie Bradshaw; Franny Price doesn't join a right-wing organization dedicated to sucking all the fun out of a room. (Although believe me, she could. Take that, fictional character!)

I really enjoyed the semi-literary discussions of Austen's work, and have yet again gotten in touch with my own nerdiness by wishing there were more of it. (Huh, spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "nerdiness." Now that's ironic.)