Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (The Jane Austen Society Blog Tour)

 Join the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England.

Title:  The Jane Austen Society
Author: Natalie Jenner
Read by:  Richard Armitage
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Length: Approximately 9 hours and 55 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Macmillan Audio as part of the tour.  Thank-you! 

The Jane Austen Society is a rare book that brings together several people in the small village of Chawton and tell an overall story that was engaging and fulfilling.  Combined with the dulcet tones of narrator, Richard Armitage, this was a great book to disappear into during these troubled times.

Chawton is the village where Jane Austen spent the last part of her life and where she wrote and published her novels.  I will admit that I have always wanted to visit Chawton.  The village is small and the villagers note that visitors often make the pilgrimage to find Jane Austen’s home, but there is no memorial to her.   A group of unlikely people become friends and form a society that has a mutual love for Jane Austen and wants to use their love to save her home and make it a museum with items of the era that she lived in. 

The novel starts in the 1930’s, but is mostly set at the end of WWII.  Adam Berwick is a farmer that grew up in Chawton.  He had won a scholarship to further his education, but after WWI killed his two older brothers and the Spanish flu killed his father, he has stayed in the village to help support his mother and keep up the family farm.  He still loves to read and a happenstance meeting with a stranger looking for Austen puts him back into the path of Austen’s novels.  Dr. Gray is a widower and a lover of Austen, Adeline Lewis is a local teacher, Evie Snow is a star pupil who has to drop out to help her family, Frances Knight is a descendant of Jane Austen’s brother , and Mimi Harrison is a Hollywood star that may have passed her prime.    I loved all of the characters and their great love of Jane Austen and her novels.  They fascinated me and had wonderful stories.  I also loved that there were hints of Austen’s novels in the stories of some of these characters.

One item that was part of this novel that surprised me was an honest discussion of grief.  Many of the characters in this novel have lost someone dear to them.  How do they move on from this grief and how does the grief hold them hostage?  I feel like many of the characters were paralyzed with grief and had been unable to move forward with their lives.  Their love for Austen and the Society itself helps them to move forward.

I also am a lover of old books and libraries.  I loved a side story of Evie Snow working in the Knight estate; exploring and cataloguing all of the books in the library.  It was interesting for her to think about how Austen could have read those same novels.  I loved it!

I listened to the audiobook version and also read the kindle version.  I really liked to listen to it and then reread the chapters to savor the language and the story.  Richard Armitage is a wonderful narrator with a strong deep voice that gave the story character and emotion.  I have enjoyed listening to books he has narrated in the past and will keep searching him out as a narrator in the future.  I really enjoy his narration style.

I honestly can’t write just how much I enjoyed this novel.  I loved listening to it and reading it and was only sad when it was over.  It was a gentle and enjoyable story.  The characters and story were very interesting, but I also loved the rumination on Austen herself and her works.  She was another character who elusively existed off page of this novel.  It reminded me in a way of The Jane Austen Book Club combined with the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Favorite Quotes:

I had a hard time just picking a few favorite quotes from this novel as I had highlighted so many quotes that I enjoyed.

“During the Great War, shell-shocked soldiers had been encouraged to read Jane Austen in particular – Kipling had coped with the loss of his soldier son by reading her books aloud to his family each night – Winston Churchill had recently used them to get through the Second World War…Part of the comfort they derived from rereading was the satisfaction of knowing there would be closure – of feeling, each time , an inexplicable anxiety over whether the main characters would find love and happiness, while all the while knowing, on some different parallel interior track , that it was all going to work out in the end.  Of being both one step ahead of the characters and one step behind Austen on every single reading.  But part of it was the heroism of Austen herself, in writing through illness and despair, and facing her own early death.”  - I liked this quote as it really dives into how Austen’s novels have helped people deal with trauma through time.

“The unnatural loss of youth not only hits us harder, it seems to insist on invading our days, as if the memory of the person lost too soon has a hidden persistent source of energy.” – There were a number of good quotes on grief in this novel.   It was very thoughtfully written.

“And one never really know what others do to cope – you’d be surprised.  There’s coping and then there’s just getting through the night.”

“None of us can ever say for sure what we’d do without feeling all of someone else’s slings and arrows along the way.”

Overall, The Jane Austen Society was a lovely gentle novel about wounded souls who find themselves by helping others and trying to preserve the legacy of one of the world’s greatest authors.  I loved this novel and highly recommend it.



  • Title: The Jane Austen Society: A Novel
  • Author: Natalie Jenner
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Austenesque Fiction
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (May 26, 2020)
  • Length (320) pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1250248732
  • eBook ASIN: B07WQPPXFW
  • Audiobook ASIN: B082VL7VRR
  • Tour Dates: May 25 – June 30, 2020


·         An Amazon Best Book of May 2020 
·         One of Goodreads Big Books of Spring & Hot Books of Summer
·         One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
·         June 2020 Indie Next Pick
·         May 2020 Library Reads Pick
·         Starred Review - Library Journal
·         Starred Review - Booklist 

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.

The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).
Link to YouTube audiobook excerpt:


“Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner’s first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships…Readers won’t need previous knowledge of Austen and her novels to enjoy this tale’s slow revealing of secrets that build to a satisfying and dramatic ending.”Booklist (starred review)
“Few things draw disparate people together so quickly as discovering they love the same writers. Few writers cement such friendships as deeply as Austen does. I believe that the readers of Jenner’s book will fall in love with the readers inside Jenner’s book, all of us thinking and dreaming of Austen the whole while. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what! A wonderful book, a wonderful read.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY at the following link: The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman.

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.


May 25           Jane Austen's World
May 25           Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog
May 26           Frolic Media
May 26           A Bookish Affair
May 26           Courtney Reads Romance
May 26           Margie's Must Reads
May 26           The Reading Frenzy
May 27           Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina
May 27           Gwendalyn's Books
May 27           Romantically Inclined Reviews
May 28           Getting Your Read On
May 28           Living Read Girl
May 28           The Lit Bitch
May 29           History Lizzie
May 29           Silver Petticoat Reviews
May 30           Cup of Tea with that Book, Please
May 30           Historical Fiction Reader
May 31           Jane Austen in Vermont
June 01          From Pemberley to Milton
June 01          My Jane Austen Book Club
June 01          AustenBlog
June 02          Lu's Reviews
June 02          The Green Mockingbird
June 03          The Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
June 03          Relz Reviews
June 03          Impressions in Ink
June 04          The Caffeinated Bibliophile
June 04          Life of Literature
June 04          Laura's Reviews
June 05          Reading Ladies Book Club
June 05          Bookish Rantings
June 06          From the TBR Pile
June 07          Rachel Dodge
June 07          An Historian About Town
June 08          Bringing up Books
June 08          Austenesque Reviews
June 09          Captivated Reading
June 09          Savvy Verse and Witt
June 10          Lady with a Quill
June 10          Drunk Austen
June 11          Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
June 11          Inkwell Inspirations
June 12          Nurse Bookie
June 12          A Bookish Way of Life
June 13          Calico Critic
June 14          Jane Austen's World
June 15          Stuck in a Book
June 15          Storybook Reviews
June 15          Confessions of a Book Addict
June 16          Literary Quicksand
June 16          Becky on Books
June 17          The Reading Frenzy
June 17          Anita Loves Books
June 18          Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals
June 18          The Write Review
June 19          Diary of Eccentric
June 20          Cracking the Cover
June 21          Short Books & Scribes
June 22          Reading the Past
June 22          Babblings of a Bookworm
June 23          My Vices and Weaknesses
June 23          The Book Diva Reads
June 24          Books, Teacups & Reviews
June 24          Wishful Endings
June 25          Robin Loves Reading
June 25          Bookfoolery
June 26          Lit and Life
June 26          Vesper's Place
June 27          Foxes and Fairy Tales
June 28          Probably at the Library
June 28          Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books
June 29          The Anglophile Channel
June 29          So Little Time…
June 30          BookNAround


  1. As soon as I heard that Richard Armitage was the narrator for this I was on board!

  2. Great review I totally agree with your statement about dealing with grief

  3. Laura, I enjoyed reading your gorgeous, glowing review of this audio book! It sounds wonderful. As usual, the quotations you featured are a treat, a nice, little sample of the book.

  4. I hope you all enjoy this one. I'm still thinking about it. I wish there was another novel after this as I loved the characters so much.

  5. Hey Laura, I am just stopping by from the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge June post, really pleased to hear you enjoyed this one so much as I too have an arc copy. Even better that you had an audiobook read by Richard Armitage! 😊