reading

The Family Fortune

Keeping up with my Austen kick, another slightly chick lit adaptation that I read recently (this fall) was The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz.  This modernizing update of Persuasion was recommended to me by a friend.  Even though I’m well familiar with the story, I still found myself dying to get back to reading it.  Somehow, these stories still manage to generate in me a page-turning suspense.

I thought certain aspects of this update worked better than others.  Jane Fortune, the Anne Eliot stand-in works for her family’s literary journal, the Euphemia Review.  While in keeping with Jane’s literary interests (and the opportunity for meeting her Captain Wentworth figure, writer Max Wellman), something about the unrealistic nature of her career bothered me.  The story is set in Boston, which makes it a fun read. 

While no Austen, and at times oddly irksome, I still found myself captivated by The Family Fortune.  What do you think of the cottage industry of chick lit ‘Austen’ retreads?  Do you have a book that fully captured your interest despite its faults?

The Jane Austen Book Club

Seeing as I wrote about Jane Austen yesterday, I wanted to continue in that vein and write a bit more about an Austen spin-off I recently enjoyed. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler was published in 2004, but I did not read it until this past summer.

This was a book I had been somewhat interested in, but never felt fully motivated to pick up. Last summer I finally checked it out of the library, and read it while traveling to visit a friend. I became instantly absorbed, and found the novel both humorous and moving. I thought Fowler created a novel that was both innovative and entertaining, and which borrowed from Jane Austen, while still remaining subtle and original. I felt like she was really able to capture Austen’s style and wit, while using her own voice to create fresh stories and characters.

The novel follows the formation of a book club in the Sacramento area—a group comprised of six members who plan to read and discuss Austen’s six novels. The group is made up of five women, and one man, and an adventure of love and self-discovery results for each member of the group. While each section begins as they meet for book club, I found the character “flashbacks” the most interesting and poignant parts of the novel.

I found The Jane Austen Book Club to be one of those novels that’s just a real pleasure to read, and I’d thoroughly recommend it. (Though, as a houseguest, I did wander off a bit in my eagerness to keep reading!)