May 2020
Natalie Jenner
St. Martin's Press
Historical Fiction
Hardcover, 320 pages
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to preserve Jane Austen’s home and legacy. The Jane Austen Society is a powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and our universal humanity. This incredible debut is destined to resonate with readers for years to come. 

"This novel delivers sweet, smart escapism." 

"Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society... a charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal."
—Pam Jenoff, author of The Lost Girls of Paris
Dear Reader,

I am so grateful for the opportunity to introduce my debut novel, The Jane Austen Society . It was on the heels of a life-altering medical diagnosis for my husband that I rediscovered Austen and the power of literature to comfort us in times of challenge. My book is a testament both to that power and to the very important role of hope in our lives.

The eight main characters in my book could not be more different from each other, yet they all love Austen and come together to do something productive with that passion. Nothing would make me happier than book club members finding different characters to identify with and amiably fight over—who said reading has to be a sedate sport!

I hope you enjoy The Jane Austen Society a nd I would love to stay in touch. Please visit my website to learn more about me and to reach out at any time.

Please stay well,

Advance readers often mention that The Jane Austen Society goes perfectly with a cup of tea so, along those lines, I would suggest an afternoon tea menu to accompany my book. 

Of course, the best part of any tea is the cake, and for this I would suggest the two different ones served in Chapter 17. This is the chapter where reclusive heiress Frances Knight is being visited by two Hollywood insiders who want to acquire the former Austen cottage as a summer home. Showcasing the very real fruits of the centuries-old estate where she lives, Frances has two cakes put out for her guests: a classic Victoria sponge (see recipe), and a coffee walnut cake.

I would add to the menu small triangles of cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, made with crustless white bread. Since my book takes place at the tail-end of World War II when rations were scarce, villagers like the Knights would be using homegrown preserves, honey, and other ingredients whenever possible, and I too have tried to select simple recipes that can be found in many pantries.

Finally, I would recommend a traditional black tea, such as Earl Grey, or a roasted, nutty green tea. The coffee and walnut cake would also pair well with sweet sherry —the nightcap indulged in by two characters, Adeline and Mimi, after a particularly momentous society meeting. And if you are lucky to have any inexpensive Cava or Prosecco on hand, a little touch of bubbly always kicks afternoon tea up a notch.

-Natalie Jenner
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