Announcing the Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club

by gidget on November 26, 2013

in community,reading

motherhood and jane austen-1

Sometimes I have wild ideas that just get filed away in the dream category, lost in a Moleskine notebook on a dusty shelf. But every once in a while, an idea comes to me that stays with me, nudging me with its presence in various forms, in a way I can’t shake.

It happened that way when I started writing about intentional community. That vision started growing in my heart a while ago and continues to surprise me when it comes back around over and over again.

I think it was the Gwenyth version of Emma back when I was in High School that really sparked a love for Jane. After seeing the movie, and discovering and thoroughly devouring the book, I moved on to Pride & Prejudice. My trusted BFF introduced me to the A&E miniseries, shortly thereafter and of course, I was completely hooked on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy at that point, long before Kiera Knightly (but I’m a big fan of both modern adaptations).

And when Kathleen Kelly referenced P&P in You’ve Got Mail, I began to realize how widespread this general love of Jane is. Now, years later, I’m still amazed by the amount of Jane Austen articles, fan fiction, movies and general affection that continues to surface 200 hundred years after her books were first published.

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So it only seems natural to come together on a literary adventure like this one: reading all six of her novels in 2014 through the lens of motherhood.

Jane Austen’s novels are chock full of interesting mothers, mother figures, absent mothers and young women who we imagine may become mothers later. We will discuss these characters, how they affect the plot, how they make us feel as mothers, how they relate to mothers we know, and more, along with general discussion about the novels, and why we love reading them (or don’t!).

Will this make us better mothers? Maybe, maybe not. But it will give us perspective, get our eyes off ourselves and our time, give us character traits to study, and hopefully, it will help us discover something new about ourselves and motherhood. I’m almost certain it will get us thinking on a deeper level, which is always good amidst the diapers and laundry and homework.

And most importantly, it will get us connecting and interacting together around a shared love of literature.

In all my reading about Jane, there is a lot of talk about women, but not as much discussion on the mother figures. So I invite you to forge into this territory with us to ask questions that maybe not many have thought to ask.

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How it will work

It’s pretty simple. Join our Facebook group, and start reading Pride and Prejudice.

That’s the first novel we’ll be reading. Over the next two months we’ll have casual discussions in our Facebook group and then we’ll wrap up that novel with a Google+ Hangout where a few of us will moderate a fun discussion.

I have an amazing group of women who are joining me to moderate the discussions and help host the Hangouts and I’ll be introducing them to you soon. I know they’re going to bring some great insight to our club, as will you all who join us as well!

The Books

Schedule of reading:
(month listed is when we will finish each book by for our Hangout discussion)

2. (April) Mansfield Park
3. (June) Persuasion
4. (Aug) Emma

anthro P and PI’ve linked to a simple, yet beautiful version of each book if you want to buy a nice copy, but you could also definitely check your library or used bookstore. And if you have an eReader, you can download electronic copies of the books for free through Project Gutenberg!

I’m currently alternating between reading the epub (for Nook) and paper versions of P&P – because sometimes you just need to feel the pages in your hand, am I right?

There are so many beautiful versions of the books as a set though that would make a lovely addition to any home library (such as this set or this volume). My husband gifted me the set pictured in this post (Vol 1. and Vol 2.) a few years ago and I love having all the novels in two books. I also adore the Mr. Boddington’s version of P&P from Anthropologie.

FAQs

What if I’m not up for reading all six?

That’s okay, feel free to join us for whichever novels you want.

What if I’m not a mom?

We will still welcome you! You will no doubt still have valuable insights to share as we discuss the various mother figures in the books, and chances are you have experience with your own mother or mother figure that will shape your view point. By all means, join the fun!

What if I’m not on Facebook? 

You will unfortunately not be able to take part in the ongoing discussions as those will be in a Facebook group, but I will post on the blog when we are ready to wrap up each book with a Google Hangout, and you can definitely join us there.

More questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll update this post with answers.

So that’s it! I really hope you’ll join us. Let’s dig in to the wonderful world of Austen.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa Camara Wilkins November 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I own paper versions of all the novels already, but I am soooo tempted to order brand-new beautiful copies just for book club! Love this. Can’t wait. <3
Melissa Camara Wilkins recently posted..The Whole Family Gift Guide

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Lisa November 26, 2013 at 6:45 pm

What an awesome idea! I’m so in. Heading over to FB now.
Lisa recently posted..The dust begins to settle.

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Breanne November 27, 2013 at 6:45 am

Oh this is so exciting!! When I saw you first post about this, I was thinking a local book club and was so bummed I wasn’t in your area. Silly me for not inquiring further. I’m totally in! =)
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Moira November 27, 2013 at 7:11 am

What a great idea! It will be fascinating to think of Austen novels through this lens. Headed over to FB now to join :)
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Molly W November 27, 2013 at 7:42 am

Elizabeth Klett does some great free version of Austen books on Librivox. It’s a free audiobook source done entirely by volunteers.

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Cynthia I December 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I love her readings! She also did a reading of Anne of Green Gables which my oldest daughter is listening to right now.

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Jennifer November 27, 2013 at 9:01 am

How fun! Reading these works through the lens of motherhood sounds so interesting. I’ve always thought that, when read in context and considering the difficult socio-economic situation in which her girls could easily find themselves, Mrs. Bennett (and her obsessive endeavors) becomes much more endearing AND pragmatic and much less petty and silly. Okay, I’ll stop now and save it for the book club – super-excited!

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Kristen @ Motherese December 11, 2013 at 8:04 am

Love this observation. Totally agree!
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Jeni November 27, 2013 at 9:49 am

Love this. Great idea!

<3 jeni
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Brittany Williams November 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

SO EXCITED about this. YAY!
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Emma November 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I have a question! Can I take part from the other side of the world? Time difference will probably mean anything you do live but the rest I can do

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gidget December 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

of course! when we do the google hangouts I think they will be recorded to YouTube so you could watch later. But at least you could take part in the FB discussions. :)

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Sherrey Meyer November 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I don’t suppose you’d want someone who has been a mom and is a grandma and great-grandma in your group, now would you? Maybe if she is a huge fan of Miss Austen she’d be acceptable, yes?
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gidget December 3, 2013 at 10:06 pm

But of course! We’d be honored to have you.

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Sherrey Meyer December 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Then I’m in . . . checking to see if I still have my paper copy — too many books makes it hard to know where some might be. Otherwise I’ll take advantage of one of your links. Heading to FB to join up!
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Bonnie-Jean November 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Love it!!! Count me in. I’m in Australia but that’s the joy of the world wide web.

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Nancy P. November 29, 2013 at 6:57 am

I love this idea, and just joined the FB group. Thank you for organizing this!

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Stacey December 2, 2013 at 11:48 am

I am just starting Mansfield Park, so maybe I’ll join you for that discussion later. I’m a little intimidated by MP because I know nothing about the story line. “I get so mixed up in the language. Words like thither and mischance and felicity.” YouknowwhatI’msayin? This is a fun idea you have!

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gidget December 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I totally know what you’re sayin! :) Yes, by all means join us for MP! That’s a good one. Well, they all are actually!

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Yvonne Reynolds December 4, 2013 at 10:31 am

Oh how fun! This sounds like a blast!
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Franziska December 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

What a fantastic idea. A wonderful way to make the world of social media really social :-) I don’t think I’ll be able to join you for the first book but I’ll keep it on my calendar and hope to join you later in the year when my schedule clears up a little :-) Pure awesomeness!!!
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Diana@My Humble Kitchen December 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I just love this idea, Nicole! I’ve read Pride and Prejudice a couple times, but have never dived into Jane Austen’s other novels. I’m so excited to finally be able to do that with a group, no less! I’m so in!!
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Rachel Norman December 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I am in!

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Tiffany December 6, 2013 at 8:16 am

I love that version from Anthro, I have to get it!

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Kim December 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

Glad I just found your post via Pinterest, I’ve just joined your Facebook group and look forward to reading the books throughout the year xx

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Valerie December 7, 2013 at 5:17 am

Looking forward to this…. I haven’t read Jane Austen in years (decades)!

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Meghan Carver December 7, 2013 at 8:40 am

Oooo, I love this! I’ve been wanting to reread Jane, so this is the time. I’m subscribing to your blog, and I’m heading over to Facebook to join the group there. I saw the link on Simple Mom’s weekend links and popped over.

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Sharon Lippincott December 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

Intentional community. Yes! This grandmother missed out on Jane in earlier years. This is the nudge I need to fill that void.
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Cynthia I December 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm

What a great idea! This might be just what I need this year. Off to FB now.

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Lauren December 8, 2013 at 10:16 am

Yay! Reading all of Jane’s book has been on my bucket list for a few years so I love this idea!
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Shannon December 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

A friend who knows I love all things Austen clued me into this… and I am so in! Going over to join the FB group now…
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Lindsay December 11, 2013 at 5:19 am

I will be reading along! Unfortunately I don’t have a Facebook account but I will check out the good hangout.

Also I found all these books except for sense & sensibility free on amazon I you have a kindle!

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Meghan Dailey-Faulhaber December 11, 2013 at 7:25 am

Hi there,

I am really interested in joining. Mainly, because I tried to do something similar with women that I know, and it was an utter failure. My main reservation is Jane Austen. I remember trying to read one of her books (I can’t remember which) when I was a teen, and it seemed almost to read like a gossip column. It was fancy people gossiping about other fancy people. Granted, this may have more to do with the fact that I was a teen with little life experience, but I have never picked up another of her books since. Thoughts?
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Kristen @ Motherese December 11, 2013 at 8:05 am

Love Jane Austen! Love this idea! Thanks so much for leading this group. I’m in!
Kristen @ Motherese recently posted..Mother-Writer: Alice Munro

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Ayse Filippidis December 13, 2013 at 3:32 am

Hey, that s a great idea…Hopefully this will continue with another amazing novels:) I want to join you from Istanbul/Turkey and I think I will read the books of Austen in Turkish, (which will be much much better for me to understand them in my mother language), is that ok??? I am really excited…

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Brooke McAlary December 16, 2013 at 10:24 am

I spotted this over on Art of Simple and am so in! Such a fabulous idea and such a great way to keep up the input of good books throughout the year. Otherwise I find myself drowning in a sea of business and writing books!

Thanks, Nicole. :)
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Pam @ Everyday Snapshots December 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I have despaired lately over my lack of interest in reading fiction. I used to spend hours involved in a good story, but since having kids my ability to lose myself has suffered. I think you have proposed just the thing to break me from my funk — a year with Jane. Wonderful idea and thank you for the invitation.
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Amanda December 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm

What Pam said!!

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Kristen @ TeachingStars December 19, 2013 at 2:44 am
Jenny December 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

Oh how exciting! I cannot remember the last time I have read fiction and I’ve never, ever read anything by Jane Austen, ever. I have wanted to though.
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Lisa December 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Looking forward to this so much! And maybe it will create more of a space for me on my much neglected and underused Facebook at the same time! (found you through Everyday Snapshots)

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Rose December 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Love this and am so glad I came across this book club via The Art of Simple blog. I am hoping to add to my love of Jane Austen as well as get insights into motherhood from the point of view of someone whose whole life was centered around marriage and children, although not married herself – but isn’t that what women’s lives were about? I’m just itching to know more about this and have joined the FB group. Please approve me :)
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Frances @ Improvement List January 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Love this idea. And want a great perspective to look at these books from a motherhood angle.
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Cyndy January 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Awesome! I can’t guarantee I will read all of them (motherhood is time consuming) ;), but this is for sure a fun idea!!

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Ashlee January 5, 2014 at 9:13 am

I just picked up vol 1 at Amazon for $0.50! (so $4.49 with ship) I’m excited to read P&P. I actually have never read any Austen, but I’ve always wanted to! Great excuse to! Requested to join the FB group. Looking forward to it!

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Rebecca January 5, 2014 at 10:38 am

What a great idea! I have actually never read a single Jane Austen book, however I have watched the different movie versions. I requested to join the FB group.
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se7en January 6, 2014 at 12:07 pm

This is such a fab idea!!! I’m not on face book, but I would love to read along!!! I haven’t read any of her books since high school – it is time!!!

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MC January 8, 2014 at 3:13 am

Love the idea and what a creative way to re-read these books! Excited!

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Ginny@RandomActsofMomness January 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Oh wow, this is a VERY fun idea. As an English teacher, mom, and rabid Janeite, I love it. It’s been a while since I’ve read the novels themselves; time to revisit them!

P.S. I have a feeling Mrs. Bennett will show me what NOT to do as a mom. Then again … maybe there is more to her than I remember?
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Valerie January 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I just found this today and requested to join the Facebook group. :) I was able to find five of the six books on Amazon for free for Kindle! I’ll be reading from my iPad and am so excited to start. I have catching up to do!!!

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heather February 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

I’m so excited to join in! I’m home nesting with a 4 week old newborn…and have lots of nursing time to cuddle up and read. So this will be a perfect treat, and also some ‘interaction’. I LOVE Jane Austen’s books! This sounds so fun!

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lisa @ being stepmom March 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Joining in late but so excited to be here! xoxo
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Maggie Frances P. March 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm

I’m very excited for this! I requested to join the group a few days ago and can’t wait to dive in with all of you wonderful ladies! I hope I’m not too late to the party.
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