Not a Jane Austen fan? Don’t worry — this movie doesn’t dwell in drawing rooms and English gardens. Set in modern-day Sacramento, it follows the members of the titular book club as they read six Austen novels. ”These people are not obsessed with Austen — they’re just people like you and me,” says Robin Swicord, a screenwriter (Memoirs of a Geisha) who makes her feature-film directorial debut with this romantic dramedy, based on Karen Joy Fowler’s novel. ”They come together to read her books as a kind of refuge from troubles in their own lives.” Eventually, however, their lives start to resemble the author’s characters. ”We see them begin new relationships and end old ones, fall out of love, and fall back into love,” says Swicord.
Hugh Dancy plays the club’s only male member, a sci-fi geek who, says the actor, ”sticks out like a sore thumb. He doesn’t know a thing about Austen and doesn’t care that much, either.” But the women gradually warm to him — especially Maria Bello’s character, whom he falls for. Dancy’s offscreen role among the female cast was somewhat less romantic, though. ”They looked at me as some kind of mascot,” he jokes. ”I was like their lucky rabbit’s paw.”