A clever book about the five women and one man who meet to discuss the Jane Austen books. For at least part of the time the narrator refers to her/himself as one of the group, but all members are described by the narrator. So we must understand the group as having a life of its own?
The members are all pretty interesting in that they are unlike each other: a high school French teacher, a long married woman who husband recently left her, her lesbian daughter whose life is lived at an intense level, a woman whose life revolves around dog shows, a man with five older sisters who lost his job in the dot com bust, and a woman of 67 who decided to officially let herself go.
The French teacher lost her mother in the course of the book, occasioning this wonderful description:
The last chapter of the book has quotes from literary figures, critics and writers commenting on Austin's work. A part of Henry James comment is, "The key to Jane Austen's fortune with posterity has been in part the extraordinary grace of her facility…" And Martin Amis noted in 1996 that each age has a different emphasis in the consideration of her work. He says, "…our response is predominantly sombre. We notice, above all, the constriction of female opportunity: how brief was their nubility, and yet how slowly and deadeningly time passed within it. We notice how plentiful were the occasions for inflicting social pain, and how interested the powerful were in this infliction. We see how little the powerless had to use against those who might hate them. We wonder who on earth will marry the poor girls. Poor men can't. And rich men can't. So who can?"