Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Monday, October 15, 2012

Austenland
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


Woah! Excuse my excessive use of interjections. Okay, I do read, I do. But I usually start something and not finish it. I know, that's a bad trait to have and I wanna fix it. (I'm the same with shows.) And I much prefer reading an actual book versus straining my eyes reading an ebook.

But then, I came across a review of Austenland of Shannon Hale. Though there was not a promise of pure enjoyment, I felt like reading something Austen-related. I haven't finished reading Pride and Prejudice yet (sigh, I might have to reread it since I don't know where I stopped) and the Pride and Prejudice movie is the only thing I have in my mind Austen-related but off I went and started reading the book. I guess I was just in for a romance. Ha! And the knowledge that it's being made into a movie probably sparked my interest.

I actually started reading two Austen-themed ebooks. Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg that was sitting in my downloads folder for so long and this just-downloaded Austenland by Shannon Hale. Prom and Prejudice was a bit too high-school-y for me right now (though that's normally mah ride) and had a too long intro. Haha! So I went for the movie-in-the-making (so I can compare the book and the movie soon), more forward one, which is Austenland. It was a really fast read because I finished it in under six hours (since I bathed, ate dinner and all that), and to think I'm more on the slow reader spectrum. Yeah.

So the plot. Jane Hayes is an early-thirty-something (I can't remember, I think she was 32 at the start then 33 when the vacation started) graphic designer in New York and she has a secret: she is obsessed with Mr. Darcy. Screw BBC's adaptation and Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy, it ruined her love life. No one compares to Mr. Darcy, no one, and there goes her love life. She keeps this secret under wraps until a rich, estranged relative finds her out and bequeaths her a nonrefundable vacation in Pembrook Park, an English resort for Austen-crazed fans. In here, the Regency-style in 1816 is copied and practiced to make the three-week long immersion to be theExperience. She comes here ready to purge her Darcy obsession for good and ready herself for spinsterhood, make this her last hurrah, but really, when is it ever the last hurrah? Haha!

Anyway, this was frothy delicious. And I love that period, from what I've seen in the Pride and Prejudice movie. But it's really funny when Jane feels bored because really, what did women back then do? Knowing full well of technology, it might be hard to live just embroidering, walking in parks, reading in dull light and all that. Haha! Anyway, I won't spoil anything much but that I was shipping Martin but oh well. And that the ending came a little bit fast for me, I feel like the conclusion was rushed so I actually have to re-read the last part for it to sink in. But aside from that minor gripe, I really enjoyed reading this. I thought that it was a nice touch to get to know her exes and how they didn't live up to Mr. Darcy. I can't blame her for being obsessed with Mr. Darcy because who doesn't love Mr. Darcy? I mean, I guess I will be annoyed as hell with a real life Darcy, what, just say you love her already and don't make her suffer! But then I guess the sweetness of the love comes from the nope-I-don't-love-you-but-I-am-actually-falling-and-I-am-hiding-it. But really, Mr. Darcy would be really frustrating I think, to experience firsthand. I mean, I watch shows with the Darcy stereotype and it's driving me nuts and batty at times though it feels pretty rewarding when they just freely fall in love. Okay, that was not related to my review, at all. Sigh, my short attention span and wandering mind.

I guess I am not that obsessed with Darcy to identify with Jane Hayes. I mean, I know I've never had a boyfriend but if in the future, would I compare them all to a fictional character? Am I that of an idealist? Would I go compare guys with TV and Book Boyfriends? I don't think I would since I'm not doing it now. I hope I won't so I can be spared of Jane's problem. Haha! Anyway, back to the nowhere to be seen review...

I just wanna say that it isn't ground-breaking or eye-opening and mostly froth and fluff, but if that's your ride, you should probably take a chance with this book. It's a short novel really and the story is entertaining and easy on the brains. No need to overthink haha! Perfect for my lazy Monday routine. So yeah.

Hope my review helped and do sound off your thoughts if you've read it! :)

I give this book 3 stars!

*Originally posted last January 17, 2012

3 comments:

  1. I have not read this book, however I have seen the movie. I have to tell you. As silly as it is, and boy is it silly, I actually adored the movie. In a big way. So, if you didn't have the greatest time with the book, go at least give the movie a chance. Just don't hate me if you hate the movie :)

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    1. Ack, see, I've never seen the movie! I completely forgot about it! I guess it's because I wasn't too excited about it after reading the book. Now, I shall hunt it and watch it. I love silly movies! I love shallow high school movies. I just can't spend six hours and over on too silly books. At least movies only take 2 hours. Haha! Thanks for reminding me of the movie, Jaime!

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    2. You are welcome! I don't really like silly books either, unless there is a point to the silliness. But silly movies? Bring them on! Also, anything that has Jennifer Coolidge in it will most assuredly make me laugh, and Austenland was no exception. She is too stinkin funny!

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