California, Greater Sacramento
Have you wondered how to start a special interest group? Read on and discover the story of the first 10 months of the Austentacious Study Group that meets in Elk Grove. It began with an organizational meeting on February 23, 2019, and the first book discussion on April 6. The new group is organized and led by Mary Adams-Wiley who has been strongly supported by Program Chair Bonnie Mischo-Allinger, Movie Adaptation Expert,Joy Prevost, Regional Coordinator, Lynn Ossolinski, and Elsie Mak, a Librarian at the Elk Grove Library.
“I couldn’t have done it without Bonnie, Joy, Lynn, and Elsie” says Mary Adams-Wiley. Bonnie’s recommendations took the group from Jane Austen for Dummies, byformer JASNA President, Joan Klingel Ray, on the first Saturday in April, through 2 sessions on Pride and Prejudice and a movie adaptation, before a July break. August through October were especially busy with 2 sessions on Northanger Abbey, plus the movie, and a stage play (organized by Lanni Butterworth). In November the Greater Sacramento Region did a special program with 2 speakers on Northanger Abbey, and the study group discussed William Deresiewicz’s_A Jane Austen Education.
Bonnie leads all the book discussions; Joy introduces the movies, tells the group what to watch for, leads the movie discussions afterwards and takes a fan rating. Lynn keeps the group updated on all JASNA and regional activities and supports it’s efforts in every way she can. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Elsie makes the meeting space a welcoming place and assists with the logistics and publicity. Mary keeps organizing, reporting via email on the last meeting, reminding members about the next one, preparing agendas and sticking to them for the business session after the discussions.
On the first Saturday in December a special holiday-themed session focused on A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions, by Maria Grace, as well as the first book review for the group. Judy Bukowski reported on An Unexpected Merry Gentleman: A Pride and Prejudice Christmas Novella. The author of the book and member of the group, Anngela Schroeder, explained how she came to write it, and read a few brief passages. A holiday party followed, not only celebrating the joyous season, but also the end of the first year together, and the friendships being built while learning more about Jane Austen. Several members brought food and beverages, the room decor featured a Christmas tree of Jane Austen buttons, and holiday cookie favors underneath the tree.
Attendance averaged 12 from February through November, but the Holiday program and party drew a larger group — 18 members and 5 guests. About 35% of the members were already part of the Sacramento Reading Group and now attend both meetings. The distance between the two meeting sites is 16 miles. Of the other 65%, most are either new to Austen or haven’t read her books in several years. This mix works well, and membership is still growing.