Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

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?

For the Everything Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word

Some of my friends absolutely adore the author Shannon Hale. So it was that, added with the fact that the plot centered around an Austen-addict, that made me pick this book up.

The story focuses on Jane, an Austen lover how has let the obsession take over her life. She spends more time with her BBC version of Pride & Prejudice then she does with non-fictional men. When her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn leaves her a trip to the super secretive Pembrook Park, she sets off for England. Over the course of the stay she realizes that being in Austenland isn't all that she dreamed it would be.

Generally, I liked the book. I'm not really sure what to say about it, hence the short review. It was fairly short, pretty quirky, and ended on a happy note. There was, however, one thing that caught my attention. Amanda, from the Zen Leaf, wrote a review which pointed this out. Here's a link to her review. On page 158 (of the paperback edition), the book says: "Jane caught sight of a very striking Colonel Andrews, who, now that she watched him dance, might just be gay." While I love Shannon Hale, she was great at her author signing...this kind of threw me. Yes, he was gay, but the stereotype in this line pulled me out of the story completely. I felt like that was a totally unnecessary way to mention his sexuality.

Aside from that line, I thought that book was cute. I was really in need of a light, fluffy book, and this one delivered. Although, it has left me thinking about my Austen mini-obsession. Would I really go so far as to spend a few weeks at a faux-Austen getaway?

Would you spend your money to spend time with actors?

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA
208 Pages
Rating: B


Amanda said...

I didn't like the book much before that line, but you're right, that really just threw me, too. Made it a book I didn't like much into one that was offensive. I haven't tried any Hale since then.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

Heather G. said...

This was just OK for me. A little to light and fluffy and the ending was just way too predictable, but still fun. Great review!

Laura's Reviews said...

I thought this book was just okay as well.

Rissi said...

I've heard such good things about this series.

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