Saturday, August 24, 2013

Austenland by Shannon Hale FIC HALE

Thirty-two year old Jane Hayes knows that she is way too obsessed with Pride and Prejudice (even hiding her Pride and Prejudice DVDs in a houseplant), and she knows that this has tainted most of the relationships that she has had with men (they just can't measure up to Mr. Darcy). Jane has even decided to completely give up on men (spinsterhood is good enough for her). On a visit with her Great-aunt Carolyn, her aunt cautions Jane about her obsession, and after Carolyn's death (to prove her point, I believe), Carolyn leaves Jane a trip to England to stay at Pembrook Park, a resort that allows its guests to live in the time period of Jane Austen's novels (1816, to be more precise) and maybe find some romance along the way.

Jane loves the clothes and the atmosphere of Pembrook Park, but she is having a hard time "pretending" (as Miss Jane Erstwhile) with everyone else. She enjoys spending time with the "actors" and other guests, but she wonders what they are really thinking and feeling. Mr. Nobely is the perfect Mr. Darcy, incredibly rude and standoffish. Colonel Andrews is rakish and a social butterfly, and Captain East has a secret past with one of the guests, Miss Amelia Heartright. Then she meets a lowly gardener named Theodore (though Martin is his real name), and though she enjoys spending time with him (he has a television in his room), she is reminded that she is not in the real world and not dealing with her insecurities. Jane eventually learns to embrace the Austen period and enjoys her time spent flirting with the gentleman (especially with Mr. Nobely) and conversing with the ladies. She is even sad to see the end come to her stay at Pembrook Park. There is a clever twist at the end (that I am surprised that I did not see coming), and a happy ending is found. Bravo!

I enjoyed how cleverly Shannon Hale wove the stories of Jane Austen into the book and how she was able to work the Austen period phrases in with more modern speak. I know I would have a hard time conversing with others at Pembrook Park (especially if I had to continue speaking that way for days and days). I also chuckled out loud at several of the antics that Jane got up to. This book is a light, enjoyable read, especially if you are a fan of Jane Austen. The audiobook is read by Katherine Kellgren, who is one of my favorite narrators, and she does a wonderful job of giving each person their own unique voice, although (sadly) I prefer to listen to her when she's using a British accent.
Austenland has been made into a movie by Sony Pictures, but it is only been released in a limited number of theaters. To find the nearest movie theater to you, check the website for dates and locations at

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