Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Austenland by Shannon Hale

by Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury USA/2007
196 pages

Pure fun! After reading Bookfoolery and Babble's review last week, I knew this was a book I had to read -right now! From the opening sentence, to the very last page, Austenland by Shannon Hale was an absolute delight.

Publisher's blurb:
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her life. No real man can compare.

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, stripped of her modern appliances, Jane throws herself into mastering 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 vanish. Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Starting with the dedication page:
For Colin Firth,
You're a really great guy, but I'm married,
so I think we should just be friends.

and continuing on to the prologue:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in
possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very
little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought
to have little to distress her.

How can you help but smile? There was one on my face for the entire 196 pages! I could gush about this book all day, but instead, I'll just say that if you're a fan of Jane Austen, or Pride and Prejudice, you ABSOLUTELY MUST read this book. My only regret was that the book was not my own. After turning the last page, it had to go back to the library.

Almost instantly, an idea popped into my head. I could buy the book for my college-freshman daughter for Valentine's Day! She's a JA enthusiast (like Mom) and is even taking a Jane Austen in Film class this semester. In the bookstore, I was looking for the sky blue cover, but instead found the paperback edition with something quite different.
I was initially disappointed, but it is growing on me. My daughter will probably prefer this one, but perhaps that is part of the marketing strategy...and the basis for another post. I'd be interested in hearing which you prefer. Regardless of the cover, as far as Jane Austen based fiction goes, it just doesn't get any better than this!


  1. I'm glad you loved it, JoAnn! And, oh, how sneaky to buy the book for your daughter. Then, you'll be able to just borrow it for future rereads. :)

    I really don't like the paperback cover at all, although I'm not as put off as I was at first. I guess it does grow on you. It was such an unpleasant surprise that it kept me from an impulse purchase.

  2. Bookfool,
    Don't know how I missed this book when it was released, so I'm very glad I read about it on your blog!
    My daughter will love it, too, and I'm already looking forward to a re-read.

    I think the paperback cover makes it look more like 'chick lit'.

  3. I have seen this book several times but have chosen to pass it by. NO LONGER -- you have convinced me that I need to read it right now so I can have a smile on my face all weekend :)

    I am jealous that your daughter is taking a class devoted to Jane Austen in film. That sounds absolutely wonderful.

  4. I think you'll have fun with this book, Molly. Let the smiling begin! Seeing all the great classes my daughter is taking makes me wish I could do it all again...only this time I'd take lit classes instead of all that chemistry!

  5. You have to read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict if you liked this one. I've read both of them and they were delightful!

  6. Darlene,
    I will definitely check for it on my next library visit. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. I read this last year - and loved it, too. It was a perfect escapist read. I'm looking forward to her new one, "The Actor and the Housewife."

  8. Carrie,
    Thanks for visiting! Shannon Hale is an author I hadn't heard of before now. I'll be sure to look for her new book when it's time for another 'escape'.

  9. This book sounds like such fun!

  10. zetor,
    It is fun! I highly recommend it the next time you're looking for a good escapist read.


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