There’s a new debutante at the ball Janeites, and she’s going to knock your bonnets off.
Meet author Natalie Jenner. Her debut novel, The Jane Austen Society, arrives on May 26, 2020—that’s 8 months and 17 days and counting.
Mark your calendars.
You will thank me!
Today, I am honored to reveal the gorgeous cover of this amazing Jane Austen-inspired novel. As you can see, the design represents five individuals lined up arm-in-arm facing Chawton Cottage, Austen’s final home near Alton, Hampshire. Any Austen fan worth their weight in syllabub recognizes it is as the epi-center of the Austen universe.
Designed by Michael Storrings at St Martin’s Press, the cover features five of the main characters: a widowed village doctor, an heiress to the Knight family estate, a young house girl on that estate, a local schoolteacher and recent war bride, and a middle-aged bachelor farmer. This group is rounded out by a local solicitor from the neighboring town of Alton, an appraiser from Sotheby’s in London, and a Hollywood movie star and lifelong Janeite—all drawn together by their mutual passion for Austen’s work and a desire to preserve her legacy.
Her last residence is now Jane Austen’s House Museum, the most treasured Austen site in the world. However, during post-WWII its future was uncertain as Austen’s family needed to divest portions of the estate. How her home was saved by an unlikely group of unique and endearing locals and fans from afar, is not only a compelling story inspired by real events and Austen lore but wholly original and authentic in its own right. Here is a description of the novel from publisher St Martin’s Press:
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of individuals band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the last home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few remaining distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the history of Jane Austen’s life in the village on the verge of disappearing, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both her home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, a visiting movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from losses incurred in the recent war, some from more distant tragedies, they join together to create The Jane Austen Society.
A charming and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small and a community that forms around a shared loved of the written word.
Luck was on my side when my agent Mitchell Waters asked me to be one of the first to read The Jane Austen Society in manuscript form last year. I loved it. I found it reverent, moving, and uplifting. It will appeal to those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the novels of bestselling author Helen Simonson. Like Austen’s milieu, it includes “three or four families in a country village,” and reminds us of what is important in our lives, and how we can make a difference by acknowledging and celebrating art in a troubling world.
Jenner’s inspiration for the book was twofold: firstly, a family tragedy returned her to reading books by her favorite authors, principally Jane Austen. And secondly, a trip to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK, as well as the village of Chawton where Austen revised or wrote all her books, and where Natalie found her inspiration for The Jane Austen Society. Over time she continued to develop the idea about a group of villagers at the end of WWII coming together to save a place so critical to Austen’s legacy.
My sincere congratulations and thanks to author Natalie Jenner and her publisher St Martin’s Press for selecting Austenprose to host the cover reveal of a novel that will delight Jane Austen and historical fiction fans. I recommend it highly.
Natalie Jenner is the author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY (St. Martin’s Press, May 2020), a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen lived. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie is a former lawyer who also recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. A lifelong devotee of all things Jane Austen, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY is her first published novel.
Visit Natalie online:
A GRAND GIVEAWAY
The Jane Austen Society will be published May 26, 2020, by St Martin’s Press. For those impatient to read this very special novel, you can enter a chance to win one of three ARC’s (advanced readers copies) from the publisher. Just leave a comment below stating what intrigues you about this new novel, or which of Jane Austen’s novels is your favorite and why, by 11:59pm, September 18, 2019. Shipment to US addresses. The winners will be drawn from those who leave a comment and will be announced on Thursday, September 19, 2020. Please contact us by October 16, 2020, to claim your prize.
The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner
St Martin’s Press (2020)
Hardcover and eBook (320) pages
Pre-orders for The Jane Austen Society are now available through the following links:
Cover image courtesy of St Martin’s Press © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, Austenprose.com