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The Jane Austen Society

Narrated by: Richard Armitage
Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (120 ratings)

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Summary

Can a village in need find hope after the devastation of war? 

The Jane Austen Society is a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where she lived. There are eight main characters, all of whom are obsessed with Austen and conspire to create the society and turn the Austen cottage into a museum in her honour: a WWII war widow, a Farmer, a village Doctor, a local Solicitor, a House-Girl in the Knight estate, the anticipated heiress of that estate, an employee of Sotheby's and a Hollywood Actress. Multiple social, romantic and cultural collisions ensue. Jenner brings all of these disparate characters vividly to life, and you'll root for all of them to find their own happiness. 

©2019 Natalie Jenner (P)2019 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about The Jane Austen Society

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  • JD
  • 31-05-20

Interesting and enjoyable

The book which is about the forming of a Jane Austen group just after WWII, describes how the 8 people involved set about acquiring Chawton Cottage where JA lived with her family for some years and how they make an attempt to turn it into a museum. So, what did I think? Well, first of all, I had to get my head around the fact that the characters and the story-line are fictional. Yes, the cottage was acquired just after the war but not by these imaginary characters and not in this way. I kept wanting to google-check things but, in the end, I just sat back and enjoyed it for what it is. I did wonder, however, if this was doing a disservice to the people who actually did set up the museum because I'm sure that many readers will assume that it is all true and give these fictional characters the credit for what must have been, historically, a great achievement. The story moves at a slow, leisurely pace and the first half deals with the main characters and their pasts and what made them decide to get involved in this venture. This might not suit some people but I enjoyed the way that the book took its time. Other listeners will be expecting a 'romance' and, although several are involved, they are only really touched upon and are not the main thrust of the story-line. If anything, the book is more about grief and how different characters deal with it. It is also, of course, about Austen, and the love of JA is what binds the 8 disparate characters together: a doctor, a solicitor, an auctioneer, a farmer, a Hollywood film star, one of the Knight family, a teacher and a servant girl. You can read this without knowing anything about JA but I did enjoy the discussions that the characters have about her and her books. The author also creates at least some of these 8 protagonists in the image of characters from her books and it was fun to spot whom they represented. There was a bit more activity in the second half of the book once the society has been set up and there were also a couple of twists to the story. The ending is a satisfying one. It is NJ's first novel and I was impressed. It is well-written with only a couple of minor Americanisms. She was born in the UK but emigrated to Canada as a child and I was amazed at how 'English' the story was: she has captured the atmosphere of a small English village, the characters and their turns of phrase as well as any British writer. Well done, that girl! Richard Armitage's reading was, of course, as marvellous as ever. His women are perfect and I forgot I was listening to a man, and his various accents - posh, local yokel, Scottish, American and Birmingham - all sounded good to me. He must be one of the best audio readers out there and would make a great Dr Gray in any film of this novel.

10 people found this helpful

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Absolutely brilliant

I have loved every single moment of this book. Thank you Natalie Jenner for writing such a fabulous book. I have loved listening to the wonderful voice of Richard Armitage becoming the characters. I could listen to it all over again.

5 people found this helpful

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A heart-warming, feel-good story.

I ripped through this book. Nine and a half hours of blissful listening about eight wonderful characters who come together to save Jane Austen's cottage in Chawton and set up a museum there in her honour. Along the way we learn about their lives, their relationships, their motivations and how they connect with each other. Superbly plotted, excellent characters and wonderful narration. One of the best books I have listened to. I thoroughly recommend it. Jane Austen lovers will love it.

4 people found this helpful

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It grew on me

Thought I wasn't going to enjoy it to begin with. but it was fabulous. and it really drew me in. the characters were realistic and the narration was superb.

3 people found this helpful

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Thoroughly enjoyable, narration was very good

A thoroughly enjoyable story. I thought eight main characters may be hard to follow, but their stories were interwoven and brought together very well. The narration was excellent - Richard Armitage brought the characters to life authentically and with care.

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

Too many Americanisms and inaccuracies for a story in 1940s Hampshire. Not what I expected.

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointing despite a superb reader

When an audio book comes along read by your favourite narrator and with the subject of one of your favourite authors, you have to get it. Sadly, this was a huge disappointment. Mr Armitage's narration was as beautifully done as ever, but the story lacked drive and focus. The contrived story of the will lacked credibility and there were far too many blunders showing a lack of research into the period. If you are going to set a story 75 years in the past, you need to get the details right! However, worst of all was the lack of depth in characterisation, possibly as there wasn't a focus on one or two main protagonists. Mr Armitage did his best with creating recognisable voices, but he sadly didn't have very much to work with. Not really worth the effort.

1 person found this helpful

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A gentle delight

perfect bedtime listening . A tonic to listen to pure human interactions without violence but full of intrigue and interest. Just like reading Jane Austen I suppose. All enhanced by the varied and dulcet tones of Mr Armitage. He's one of the few male narrators who can do justice to female characters which is surprising as he has such a naturally deep voice.

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A slow burner but well worth it!

A Jane Austen style novel about Jane Austen. I adored it. A lovely story. Highly recommended!

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Convincente

Toccante, imperdibile per tutti i fan di Jane Austen. Ho amato subito il personaggio Dr. Gray. Bellissimo la parte della sua visita al cimitero. La voce di R. Armitage è la perfezione assoluta!

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 21-07-20

Perfection

The love of Jane Austen's books shine through this book. I just have the urge to read Jane Austen now. This story stands on it's own but with a heavy influence of Jane.Beautifully written with very human characters. I highly recommend it- I will read it again