f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Weird POV

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Weird POV

Just when you think you’re Mr. Smart, Mr. I-Know-About-Books, you sit down with a novel, reach page 35 and say to yourself: “I have no clue who the narrator of this story is.” And then you talk to your wife and she admits to not knowing either.

So it is with perhaps the least likely of culprits: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. Early on she uses “we” in the narration, giving you the sense that it’s a first-person narrator. Turns out that the “we” is not an “me + everyone else” but rather a non-corporeal “we” that seems to stand for the “book club” as a group. Weird stuff. (It may be a device Austen herself used from time-to-time. Can’t remember it though the Jane I’ve read.) Anyway, the rest of it is in a very omniscient third-person narration that often switches in a blink. Honestly, it’s driving me to distraction. That the book seems to have no point isn’t helping matters.

Only a lovely little section about a woman remembering the laziest mom in the world has saved the book. For the moment.