Author: Shannon Hale
Publication date: January 1st 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Age group: Adult
Series: Austenland #1
Cover rating: 3/5
Content rating: 4/5
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 am a huge Austen fan. I haven't even gotten around to reading all of her work yet (I will very soon!) but she's one of my favourites. I will probably pick up anything with Austen's name on it and thankfully there are lots of spin offs out there! Some better than others, of course. I think Austenland was definitely one of the better ones. I think it managed to find its own unique style instead of trying to strive to be as Austen-like as possible.
Jane Hayes has a secret obsession: Pride and Prejudice. She is obsessed with it to the point of it hindering her life. For Jane, nothing in the real world ever lives up to what she sees as the idyllic life of Elizabeth Bennet. When her aunt dies, she leaves Jane something rather unusual in her will. Jane gets to visit a place that imitates Austen's time period and consists of actors roleplaying as various characters. I loved this idea and was interested to see where it would go. From the minute Jane steps in to this place, it's obvious that's it's not really her kind of thing and that she's not going to have such an easy time acting out the life she's been wishing for all these years.
I thought the idea was well executed and I really enjoyed Jane's stay at the resort. I found that even I was fooled several times over who was acting and who was real! I can't imagine how weird it would have felt to be Jane. She couldn't do the acting thing but kept forgetting that everybody else could. I found a lot of the interactions of the characters really entertaining and overall, the book was a pleasure to read. It did get a bit stale at parts with too much description and not enough talking or events but other than that, I really enjoyed it and I'm really looking forward to the second book, Midnight in Austenland!