The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Read Along: Barren Bitches Book Brigade--Tour #9 (with online interview)

Welcome to the ninth tour of the Barren Bitches Book Brigade--a book club from the comfort of your own living room. Grab a cup of coffee and start clicking away at the links below.

Just to explain, this book club is entirely online and open to anyone (male or female) in the infertility/pregnancy loss/assisted conception/adoption/parenting-after-infertility world (as well as any other related category I inadvertently left off the list). It is called a book tour because everyone reads the same book and then poses a question to the group. Participants choose a few questions to answer and then post their response on their blog. Readers can jump from blog to blog, commenting along the way.

Book: The Jane Austen Book Club
Author: Karen Joy Fowler*
Start Date: December 13
Post Date: January 28
(need an explanation of how a book tour works? Click here to go to a list of posts on the past book tours as well as information about all upcoming tours and book events.)
*with author participation

Barren Bitches Book Brigade List (click on any of the links below to take you to a stop on this book tour. Jump from post to post to read a plethora of opinions and thoughts on The Jane Austen Book Club).

Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters (Mel)
Slaying, Blogging, Whatever... (Delenn)
Beaten But Not Bowed (Drowned Girl)
The Road Less Travelled (Loribeth)
The Conceivable Future (Andie)
Coming2Terms (Pamela Jeanne)
The Dunn Family (Erica)
No Swimmers in the Tubes (Noswimmers)
Sell Crazy Someplace Else (Jendeis)
The Infertile Long and Winding Road (Ms. Infertile)
All Things Deb (Deb)

Even if you haven't read The Jane Austen Book Club, you can still add your own thoughts on the blog tour or react to someone else's critique.

Like the idea of being in a book club without leaving your living room? The next book for book tour #10 is by a writer who rocks the stirrups and manages to find humour even in the most mundane of day 3 blood work visits: Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl. The next 6 book tours or so all have author participation so you'll also be able ask Beth your questions about her book.

The Details: Tour #10 will start January 29. Participants will read Embryo Culture by Beth Kohl. On Wednesday, February 27th everyone will send one question based on the book (to get a sense of questions, click here to see the questions sent for book tour #2) to me. I will compile the questions into lists that will be emailed out to you on February 28th. Everyone will choose 3 questions from the list and answer them on their own blog on March 3-5 (we will break up into two or three smaller groups and you can choose which day works best for you when the date gets closer). Each day of the tour, I'll also post a master list and people can jump from blog to blog, reading and commenting on the book tour.

If you would like to sign up to participate in book tour #10, leave a comment below or send me an email. I need the title and a link to your blog as well as an email address where you'd like the two or three book club emails sent. If a spouse wants to participate too and he/she doesn't have their own blog, have them set up a blog solely for book tours (as we did with the Annex) and send me a link to that blog. And if you're a reader without a blog, now is a great time to set up a space for yourself on Blogger. People will be able to find brand-spanking-new blogs because they will be on the book tour's participant list. The next few tours are always listed on the new upcoming and past tours list. Happy reading.

In addition, Karen was lovely enough to answer a few questions we had while we were reading her book. The Jane Austen Book Club has been a major success--first in book form as a New York Times Bestseller and then on the big screen this past fall. As a book club, this book has major appeal since it covers the lives of several members of a book club that focuses solely on the works of Jane Austen. At the same time, the meat of the story is their criss-crossing lives that are as emotion-laden and magical as a story by the great Austen herself.

Melissa: Tell us how the book started—who was the first character to come to life inside your head?

Karen:
I write my books in roughly the same sequence you read them. So Jocelyn is the character I worked out first, just as she's the first character you get an inside look at as a reader.

Melissa: Which character do you relate to the most?

Karen:
I think Sylvia. She's the character most embedded in family. She's had a long marriage and is the only character in the book whose children play a real role. I even gave her my house -- the rooms described in the bookclub meeting she hosts are the rooms I'm sitting in right now, typing this out.

Melissa: How did the book club question list at the back of the book come about? Did you get to contribute questions to the list?

Karen:
All of the back material was my editor's idea (and a very good idea, too). She suggested adding the plot summaries, the responses to Austen, and the bookclub questions. But then I did them. So all the questions at the end are ones I came up with, just as I picked the responses I liked best, and struggled with plot summaries.

Melissa: Why the Jane Austen book club? Do you think that Jane Austen has a universal appeal?

Karen: I
know Austen's appeal is not universal, because I have a number of friends who don't like her at all. Sometimes they try to explain to me why, but I just put my fingers in my ears and sing loudly. Her appeal may not be universal, but it is very widespread. But mainly I chose Austen, because I love Austen. I started reading her in high school and it was love at first sight.

Melissa: Do you think Jane Austen discusses themes that are common to the human experience, and that is where her appeal lies?

Karen:
The first line of my book is that we all have a private Austen. I stand by that line. Different people read Austen in very different ways and like her for very different reasons. If I had to choose a single explanation, I would probably not pick her themes or her plots or even her characters. I would pick her voice. When you read her, you just wish you knew her. And you worry she might not like you. She's so discerning! She's delightful, but scary.

Melissa: How do you think Jane Austen's work compares to contemporaries that wrote with a more philosophical voice? For example, George Eliot or Elizabeth Gaskell?

Karen:
Austen is wittier, but Middlemarch is my very favorite novel. I love Gaskell, too, though I've read less of her and read her less often. Don't make me choose! I love them all.

5 comments:

Helen said...

I'd like to join for the next tour!

loribeth said...

I've never read Gaskell, but I read Middlemarch in university (same course that I read Emma in!), & loved it too. Thanks for the insights!

Baby Steps to Baby Shoes said...

Please sign me up for the Embryo Culture tour. Looking forward to it!

Pamela Jeanne said...

Thanks for an enjoyable read, Karen. You combined two of my favorites -- Jane Austen and a story that offers a compelling and novel way to explore and bring to life your characters. The notion that we each have a "private Austen" is an intriguing one. Makes me wonder what "private Austen" my friends have tucked out of sight.

kjfowler said...

I'm maybe halfway through reading the comments on all the blogs. I thank you all so much for how much thoughtful attention you've all given my book. I'm especially enjoying the many stories of friendships the question about Sylvia and Jocelyn prompted. For many many years of my life I always had a best friend, not always the same best friend, but always someone clearly in that slot. For the last ten years or so, I haven't. I miss that. I like hearing about all of yours though --