Monday, 25 April 2011
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 should probably start out this review by admitting that I am a hardcore Austen groupie, so any conclusions I may make about this book are bound to be heavily biased! For one of my fourth year classes at university I even took a lecture devoted to Austen's six novels, which was taught by my all time favourite professor and Jane Austen expert Dr. Seeber! Needless to say I am about as obsessed with Austen as the main character of this book!
Shannon Hale's Austenland was humorous, lighthearted fun which pulled me in right from page one! I found it impossible to tear myself away, reading it well into the night so that I could find out what happened in the end. I loved how Hale not only drew upon the plots of many of Austen's novels, but also clashed them together with aspects of modern society. At many times it even seemed as if she was poking fun at Jane Austen herself, which I found highly amusing!
While Shannon Hale may have used aspects of Austen to inspire her work, I felt like the plot itself was very original. I feel like every women who has ever read Austen's novels or watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice would secretly wish for a getaway like the one described in Austenland. The ending especially caught me off guard, with a delicious twist that I did not see coming at all! I almost wish that Shannon Hale had written more than the 208 pages that this book provides because I was sad to see this adventure with Jane come to an end. So would I recommend reading this book? Most definitely! Those familiar with Austen's works and life will absolutely adore this comical, charming, and spellbinding tale of a woman simply searching for the Mr. Darcy in her life.
Rating: 5 Stars
(Honestly, everything I have ever read by Shannon Hale has been 5 star worthy...I simply love her!)