The Jane Austen Book Club by Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler’s book is “a luxuriant pleasure! Karen Joy Fowler has written a novel that is rich and wonderful in all the ways I treasure. Smart, funny, full of robust characters and a wry wit that is uniquely her own. If I could eat this novel, I would.” Alice Sebold (author of The Lovely Bones)

I started The Jane Austen Book Club as soon as I finished The Myth of You and Me. Like Myth, this book was easy to read. Fowler’s prose is fresh and without pretense. Her skill as a writer is that she made each character spring from the page- even though there is nothing traditional in the way she tells their stories or in the way that these characters come together.

Joceyln, Sylvia, Bernadette, Prudie, Allegra and Grigg (a man) meet to discuss Jane Austen novels. Whether you have as deep and abiding a love for Austen’s work as these characters do hardly matters: you’ll grow very fond of the characters all on their own. Their personal histories, carefully chosen anectdotes, illustrate some of the very same observations Austen made about the people of her generation. And Fowler observes them with as much good natured affection as Austen observed her characters.

The Jane Austen Book Club does not have a beginning, middle and end- and yet I felt as though I spent time in the company of compelling, funny, loving, special people. (And there were even a couple passing references to Buffy!)

Read reviews

MY QUESTIONS

1. How does the novel’s structure – book club meetings interspersed with personal recollections – help us to understand the characters?

2. Fowler’s characters each have a ‘private’ Austen. Discuss the ways in which this ‘private’ Austen suits each character?

3. There are many funny moments in this book- Jocelyn mistaking the sci fi fan for a basset reader, for example. Discuss some of your favourites.

4. What is the purpose of the ‘promotional material’ for Mo Bellington’s new book?

There are questions at the back of Fowler’s book- cleverly asked by each member of the ‘book club.’

Reading Guide


FOOD

Bailey’s Marble Cheesecake

Base
1-1/2 chocolate wafer or Oreo cookie crumbs
2 T sugar
1/4 c butter at room temperature

Cake
6 squares semisweet chocolate
3 pkgs regular cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 c sugar
3 eggs
2 c regular sour cream
1/4 c Baileys Irish Cream or coffee or orange liquer
1 tsp vanilla

Topping
5 squares semisweet chocolate
1/2 c whipping cream
2 t butter
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.
Stir crumbs with sugar, add butter until crumbly. Press into bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan. Bake for about 12 minutes, until base appears set.

Coarsely chop 6 squares of chocolate. Melt.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one.

Stri in sour cream, liquer and vanilla.

Pour about 2/3 of mixture onto cooled base. Add chocolate to remainder of batter. Drop 5 or 6 dollops of chocolate mixture onto white and swirl with knife to create marble effect.

Bake in 325 oven for 1 hour and 30 to 40 minutes, until edges are brown and center is just raised. Remove to rack. Run knife around edge an dlet cool. (Do not remove spring form sides!)

When cake has cooled prepare topping. Melt chocolate, whipping cream. Add vanilla. Spread over cake. Refrigerate uncovered- 6 hours or overnight.

THIS IS YUMMY!!!

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