Austenland by Shannon Hale

8:00 AM

Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 
Release: May 29, 2007
Pages: 197
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?

I've got a confession: I'm a massive romantic comedy movie fan. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail. I've seen basically all of the mainstream ones, including the movie adaptation for Austenland. I'm ashamed to say that I watched the movie before reading the book (which to be fair I didn't know existed). Austenland (the movie) was one of my favorites in the seemingly never ending stream of Pride & Prejudice adaptations, so reading the book was a no brainer.

This take on Jane Austen's classic is a sort of self-aware-but-not-really version.
The lead character goes to an Austen-era reenactment camp where she is quickly disillusioned by the camps financial caste system. Realizing she has paid a boatload of money to be treated like dirt by the founder of the estate, she decides to make the best of it. Long story short, she ends up falling for the Mr Darcy of the story. So it's sort of aware, but it also falls into the same old story.

I really, really liked Jane. She's relate-able, she was a fun narrator, and she strayed from the Mary Sue path. It was amazing that in such a short book we were able to see her grow so immensely as a person. We watch her go from a Jane Austen fanatic (or a Jane Austen obsessive if we're being honest) to a woman who is ready to stop using classic books as a way to shield herself from the real world. While her early obsessive antics are slightly cringe-worthy, they were not over the top to the point of giving the reader secondhand embarrassment. 

The first thing you'll realize when you pick up a copy of this book is just how short it is. It's definitely a quick read and would be ideal for someone trying to get out of a reading slump. It's a fun, fluffy book whose movie adaptation was surprisingly accurate. Would I recommend it for a different take on the timeless story of Pride and Prejudice? Yes. Also, now I really want to find a regency era reenactment camp.

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  1. As a Pride and Prejudice-fan, this book seems sooo fun! Thanks for the tip, I'm noting this in my to read-lists!

    1. It's super fun! I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I've been looking for books to get into.

  3. This book sounds exactly like something I would love reading! Thanks for the recommendation!! DaisyGirl

  4. I'm always looking for new books to add to my list and I love Pride and Prejudice, so I can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Sounds like a good but quick read. Might be good for a holiday novel.

    1. Definitely would make a good holiday book!

  6. This sounds like it would be a book that I would really enjoy. I am definitely going to be adding it to my list.

  7. Sometimes I need a quick and easy read, and this seems perfect for that! I am happy to hear you enjoyed it.

  8. Sounds like an interesting and fun read. Thanks for the review, I will most certainly include it in my seaside reading list :)

  9. I loved the movie too and had no idea it was a book. I definitely will be purchasing it! Thanks!

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