Books, culture

The Jane Austen Society, Natalie Jenner

4.5 Stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Norwich born author, Natalie Jenner gives us her first novel – and what a treat she has given us. Even today we see the impact of Austen’s work as people continue to fall in love with her novels. Jenner brings together lovers of literature and history in her eloquently written and entirely moving novel. It is simply divine, and a book that I would heartily recommend to all, not just Jane Austen fans! Naturally any Austen fan will be interested in this book, but there is so much more which Jenner offers the reader.

Lovers of literature and history, I am delighted and overjoyed by this beautifully written and utterly fabulous story which delves into the history of Jane Austen and the enormous power that her work holds over people. We are introduced to the beautiful village of Chawton, its lovely inhabitants and their stories. The main characters who this tale follows are all lovable, well developed and completely draw you in. You feel their struggles as if they were your own, you will discover you cannot put this book down, it is a page turner, you will wholeheartedly love it. Set just after the Second World War the troubles which have befallen the people in this village are great but there is one person who can bring joy to even the darkest of woes. 

I visited Chawton House and the Jane Austen House Museum last year and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of Jane Austen, seeing the table at which she wrote her novels and especially visiting the beautiful library which holds a large collection of women’s literature. Having visited the beautiful village of Chawton, it really enhanced this read for me as it felt more personal as I visualised my own memories of the place. Chawton village was where Jane Austen lived in the latter part of her life and a rather unusual collection of its inhabitants, 150 years on, are brought together through their love of her work.

I read (or devoured) this beautiful hardcover first but then afterwards discovered the audiobook is read by Richard Armitage so naturally I had to download it! I would thoroughly recommend buying both- this book lends itself to being reread multiple times!  

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“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”