Publish Date: 5/26/2020
Author: Natalie Jenner
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.
Oh my heart! First things first, as an English Literature major, you’d think I would have read Jane Austen in my time. When I was a kid, I attempted Pride and Prejudice and just didn’t continue. I have yet to read any Jane Austen even though I am well aware of her literary accomplishments. That didn’t take away from this book. There were some points where I didn’t necessarily know the character or quotation from one of her works but I was still able to understand it.
Let me just say, I really struggled at first to get through this. I was struggling, felt defeated, and didn’t want to push through but with most of my reads, I usually do not abandon a book! I loved reading about Mimi as a character and her chapters but they were few and far between. About 130 pages in, it was just BAM I LOVE THIS. I needed to know all the details and wanted so much for everything to work out for our characters. I think that’s around when Mimi becomes a main staple in the book and she really did it for me.
The book is really cute and I think if you love Jane Austen, you will LOVE this book. If you aren’t a Jane Austen fan, you will still appreciate and love the book! It’s a slow burn (at least it was for me) so be ready to take some time to get into it. This isn’t necessarily a life-changing or fast read but it was a great palette cleanser.
By the end of the book, I felt connected to each of the characters. They each were deserving of what they longed for and I felt like their goodness shined through so bright. They were wonderful and quaint. The small-town relationships left me longing for a simpler life (not quarantine simple) and I felt like this book showcased those times wonderfully even a different country.
I recommend this read! This has made me want to go back and discover Jane Austen. The characters’ love for her is so convincing and beautiful!