No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, March 31, 2005

#23: The Jane Austen Book Club -- Karen Joy Fowler

I enjoyed this very much: six characters, six points of view, plus a ubiquitous 'we' that doesn't seem to be spoken by any individual. Some of the characters aren't entirely likeable people, but the affectionate, wry, very Austenesque way in which they're described is witty and enjoyable. The book's full of the sort of observations and experiences familiar to many -- well, to me at least. There's a recurring theme of writers stealing ideas from other people's lives. Fowler (author of Sarah Canary, which was widely praised by the SF community) has plenty of gently acerbic observations of the genre -- authors who people their fantasy novels with jewel-eyed characters, fans who act in ways quite impenetrable to the outside world -- and of each of her characters, whose lives all change, directly or indirectly and quite unpredictably, as a result of the book club and the people they meet through it.

I occasionally quibbled with her language (the past tense of 'spit' is not 'spit', but 'spat'): but far more often I smiled or laughed out loud at her observations. Married life as a life without plot, just the same events repeating; Patrick O'Brian as the next potential author for the bookclub ("When we needed to cook aboard ship, play a musical instrument, travel to Spain dressed as a bear, Patrick O'Brian would be our man."); the simple truths. What if you had a happy ending and didn't notice?

Delightful, and reminiscent of Austen without slavish imitation.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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