Friday, July 12, 2013

"austenland" by shannon hale

About the book (from Amazon): Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man—perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

My take: I bought Austenland well before I knew there was going to be a movie adaptation. One of the bloggers I follow mentioned she was reading it, and, as I'm a sucker for all things Austen, I thought it sounded good. After about 30 pages, I put it down, as I just wasn't too engaged in the story. Sure, it was fine, but it wasn't particularly compelling.

Flash forward several months, when the trailer for the movie was released. I watched it and thought, "That's not what happened in the book!" So then I pulled the book up on my Kindle and read the entire thing in one night.

In the book (in a plot point that seems to be changed for the movie), Jane receives a trip to Austenland as an inheritance from her great aunt. She's a bit reluctant to dive into the whole Austen experience, but she finally comes to embrace it. However, she finds it difficult to determine what is real and what is fiction—after all, everyone at Austenland is either paying or being paid to be there. Jane finds herself torn between fulfilling the purpose of Austenland—becoming "engaged" to one of the gentlemen—and taking a chance at true love. Could one of the actors actually be her Darcy?

Austenland is really loads of fun to read (once you get past the slower opening chapters), it's full of allusions to Austen's novels, and some parts are laugh out loud funny. I'd definitely recommend you read it before seeing the movie!

My rating: 4 stars.

Buy the book.
Watch the film trailer:

About the author: New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and dozens of rejections, she published THE GOOSE GIRL, the first in her award-winning BOOKS OF BAYERN series. Her standalone book for young readers, BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, won a Cybils award. The Newbery Honor winner PRINCESS ACADEMY was followed in 2012 by bestseller PRINCESS ACADEMY: PALACE OF STONE.

Her books for the adult crowd are AUSTENLAND (soon to be a major motion picture starring Keri Russell), MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND, and THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE. With her husband Dean, Shannon wrote two graphic novels for young readers: RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE, an Eisner nominee, and its acclaimed sequel, CALAMITY JACK. Shannon spends her days corralling four young children near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself and have no connection to the author or publisher. Some of the links on this page are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase a product, I will receive a commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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