Die-hard Austenites might shudder at the idea of a Jane Austen fan club in modern-day California, but Karen Joy Fowler’s source novel fared well enough to give rise to this adaptation. Director Robin Swicord has cast actresses best known for reliable supporting roles: Emily Blunt is uptight teacher, Prudie; Kathy Baker is oft-divorced Bernadette; Maria Bello is match-making Jocelyn; and Amy Brenneman is recently separated Sylvia. Together with a lesbian and a bloke – for balance, presumably – they form a group to read and discuss Austen’s novels. When their lives start mirroring those of the writer’s heroines, Austen readers may find themselves torn between enjoying the references and finding them crass (‘You’re such an Emma,’ Jocelyn is told at one point). But Prudie’s problems, which include a drug-addled mother and a flirtatious pupil, lend enough colour and humour to help this muddle along just fine in a sentimental, mainstream kind of way. Although by constantly referencing Austen’s sharp wit and characterisation, this can only ever come up short in comparison.