LitClub:  Becoming Jane Austen Book Club
Modesto, California

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CHANNELING JANE is their shtick: they've read her entire ouvre more than once...they dress in costumes, have meals, and even devised a Jane Austen Murder Mystery Party. This group has way too much fun.

Click on the photo below to watch a VIDEO of the group's 2015 round-up.

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Fantastic video!

So let's talk about how you got started. Something about a quiz?
Yes. We first met in 2007 to talk about the book Austenland and decided to take a Jane Austen quiz to see how much we knew. Ha!

And you all failed?
All but one! Turns out we were  Austen illiterate. Some had read only Pride and Prejudice, and others admitted they'd only seen the movies.

That was when we decided to form a book club to read all of Austen's novels.

But why "Becoming"?
Well, we were so "Jane deficient" we couldn't rightfully call ourselves the "Jane Austen Book Club." So we combined it with the title of another become "Becoming Jane Austen."

Some of your photos don't look very Austen-ish. Why's that?
Our original intent was only to read the Austen novels and then disband our group. 

You read them all. But you're still together.
Yes. We continued because we enjoyed each other and the books.

But we decided to read other authors—all from the Victorian era. We stick to books published no later than 1900...though we've since extended the date to 1920.

You also re-read Austen's books.
Yes, in 2013, we read through her novels once again—and we even retook the QUIZ!

How'd it go this time?
We aced it! All of us.

We did step outside our preferred era in 2012 to pay homage to Austenland, the book that inspired our club!! We had a huge costumed tea party with lots of wild characters from the novel. (See top colored photo.)

What have you read the past year?
First of all, Victorian novels tend to be lengthy (500 pages+ isn't uncommon), so we meet every other month. This gives us plenty of time to read the book and also to find hard copies if we desire.

Here's what we read in 2015:
David Copperfield
The Moonstone
A Room with a View
Anne of Green Gables

Any all-time favorites?
We call oursleves "Janes"—so we must put Persuasion at the top of the list—most of us preferring Frederick over Darcy! Sense and Sensibility runs a close 2nd.

Other favorites include:
Wives and Daughters (by
   Elizabeth Gaskell)
Jane Eyre
Importance of Being Earnest
David Copperfield

What we love in a story are intriguing characters, a strong narrative, and a solid plot.

Our discussions—even if we might not like the book—are always lively. Victorian novels are challenging, and we love a good challenge!

We get to explore different times and settings than those in modern novels. History, customs and locations are discussed, as well as the life of the author.

Any disappointments?
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier drove everyone crazy! We didn't like the characters or story: the protagonist was unbelievable in actions and thought process. 

A Room with a View frustrated our members, mostly because we disliked the characters and their choices. BUT...we had a marvelous discussion, which was hard to end—it was always, "Wait! One more question...!"

Best discussions?
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier divided the group based on whether we thought Rachel guilty or innocent. Each side tried to convince the other, and by the end, many had changed positions!

We had a tea party with "Rachel" pouring tea. If you felt she was guilty, you put your hand over the cup; if innocent, you accepted her tea. (See top wide photo.)

What about the Bocce Ball and fainting photos?
We had a tie while voting to select a book, so we broke it by playing Bocce Ball—the Hunchbacks (of Notre Dame) vs. the Romantics (of the Forest)

Who won?
The Romantics did.

Then after our Bocce Ball game we posed for our group photo, which we do at every meeting. We honored Frances Burney's novel Evelina, whose heroine is always fainting. So we obliged.

So how do you choose your books?
We have a private Facebook page, which we use to stay in touch, set up our meetings, share book club photos, etc. It's also where we vote on titles. We do a month-long poll on the page—anyone can nominate a book, but you have only one vote. The top books make it into the finals, and then we vote at our meetings.

How about club rules?
We have more mottoes than rules.
We are serious about our books, and we are serious about our fun!!
Our book club is open to all.
Once a Jane, always a Jane. If you come once to a meeting, you're IN! You're a Jane for life!

Any parting words to sum your club?
We are lively and fun! We love the challenge of reading the classics and really delve into the books. We are friends and love being together. We also love welcoming new members into the Janes!

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