Austenland by Shannon Hale – Book Review

Austenland

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads Description

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?
My Review

I am a sucker for Jane Austen.  I love her books, movies and books like Austenland that play off this love of everything Austen.  Austenland is a light and fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Jane Hayes is a 32 year old New Yorker with no love life and obsessed with Jane Austen.  No real man can compare to Mr. Darcy, especially the Colin Firth version.  When her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn dies, she leaves Jane a three week all-inclusive trip to Penbrook Park, a resort in England that specializes in recreating the world of Jane Austen.  Think Fantasy Island, only it’s all Jane Ausen-ish characters, food, and costumes.

At first Jane finds Penbrook Park silly and finds it hard to throw herself fully into this fantasy world.  There are two other women vacationing with Jane.  They are expected to find temporary romance with the men at the resort and leave their real worlds behind.  Jane is the only one resistant, even though this is the life she day dreams of so much at home.

Eventually Jane sees the light and after some mishaps she throws herself fully into this world of manners and etiquette and plays the game as it should be played.  Will she find her true self?  Will she finally be able to push aside this infatuation with the fictional Mr. Darcy and allow real love to enter her life?  There is a feel-good ending that makes this a worthwhile read.

I have seen the movie adaptation of this book.  There are some slight changes  but nothing significant.  Whether you read the book or see the movie, you will still enjoy either one regardless of which one is experienced first.

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