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'The Jane Austen Book Club'

Smart and unselfconsciously literate, Robin Swicord's screen adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's chick-lit novel traffics in lots of satisfying parallels and comforting symmetries.

As the film opens, a number of relationships are in the process of collapsing, and the women in them are opting to find solace (and perhaps a little wisdom) in the novels of Jane Austen. Austen wasn't just a romantic, of course, and as they find their own lives reflected in her plots, they ... well, I should probably let you discover what they discover, for yourself.

Suffice it to say that everyone's attractive and articulate, and that Swicord (a writer-turned-director with a specialty in adapting complicated novels (Little Women, Memoirs of a Geisha) for the screen) shepherds them through the complexities here with grace — right through the overly neat, albeit supremely Austen-ish, final reel.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.