Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Sunday, March 2, 2014

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Austenland by Shannon Hale 

Release Date: May 29th, 2007 
Publisher: Bloomsbuy USA 
Age Group: Adult 
Pages: 197 
Source: Borrowed from Library 
Series: Austenland (#1) 
Other Titles in the Series: Midnight in Austenland (#2) 

Summary ( Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

My Review:

I’m really not sure how I feel about this book. It was okay, but definitely not what I expected. I think the main reason this isn’t my favorite book is that I really disliked the main character Jane. She complained all the time about how much she wanted to stop liking Mr. Darcy. I think the plot and Jane’s character would have benefited from her learning to accept herself for who she was early on in the book instead of just complaining about it ever other page.

The premise of Austenland is for Jane to go to this Austen themed resort to kick her Darcy habit. I could tell that the author was trying to make Austenland seem as horrible as possible so that no one would ever want to go there and to ensure that Jane would hate all things Austen by the time she leaves. Austenland sounded horrible. Actors were paid to make customers fall in love with them, which is so cruel. I’ve always thought that something like Austenland would be fun, but I never imagined the gentlemen to be paid actors, I thought they would be guys looking for their Elizabeth Bennets just like girls go looking for their Mr. Darcys (and those guys DO exist).

However, I really did like that last few chapters. I liked who Jane ended up with. I wish that Jane could have ended up with him halfway through or that the book was longer so that we could have seen more of their relationship outside of Austenland. I liked that Hale didn’t just reference Austen in the novel either. A few times she mentions the Bronte Sisters’ works as well which because I have read them I understood and appreciated (however, if I hadn’t read those books and was reading Austenland solely for Austen I might have thought I had somehow missed a few of her novels).

From a slightly different perspective I think I would have really liked this book. You should read it though because this is all just my opinion and I can’t speak for you, dear reader. I would recommend this to fans of romantic comedy, Regency England, and of course Austen. If you’ve read Austenland and liked it comment below and tell me your favorite parts!