Anyway, after over 600 pages of critical analysis I needed something light, so it seemed like the perfect time to pick this up - also, it sort of relates to The Madwoman in the Attic - Gilbert and Gubar talked about Austen as a 19th century woman author (yes, I know I'm stretching it).
As expected, the novel was an entertaining, light read. It didn't provide great insights, but it was a fun read about book lovers, even poking fun at certain types of readers and Austenites (such as the people that think Austen is infallible and her choices can't be critiqued). The Jane Austen book club is made up of six different people, five women and one man. In the first few pages, Fowler discusses their different perspectives of Austen. One person sees them as romances, another as a critique of the women's economic position, another focuses on the comedy. Personally, I probably focus more on the social critique and satire.
Following that introduction, each chapter revolves around one of the books, or meetings. Each person in the group is in charge of one of the novels, and in their chapters, Fowler loosely links the plot or theme of their selected novel to the discussion leader's life. I enjoyed the way she had them relate to each other, without forcing them to exactly parallel. For example, Joyce leads the first discussion on Emma, and at one point says, "the Emma plot, the humbling of a pretty, self-satisfied girl is the most popular plot of all time" (15). This then leads to the story of Joyce's own "humbling," and similar to Emma, Joyce is a failed match maker.
I liked Fowler's idea of weaving six people and Austen's plots together, and it worked well. While she centers the novel around the book club and her characters' love of Austen, she doesn't overdo the discussions or spend too much time focusing on Austen, so her characters seem well-developed rather than simply copies of Austen.