Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her.

This review was previously posted on my personal blog on September 12, 2007.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her. There was no husband, but those weren’t necessary anymore. There were boyfriends, and if they came and went in a regular stream of mutual dissatisfaction – well, that was the way of things, wasn’t it?

But Jane had a secret. By day, she bustled and luncheoned and e-mailed and over-timed and just-in-timed, but sometimes, when she had the time to slip off her consignment store pumps and lounge on her hand-me-down sofa, she dimmed the lights, turned on her nine-inch television, and acknowledged what was missing.

Sometimes, she watched Pride and Prejudice.”

(And, just to clear up any misunderstanding, she is most definitely speaking of the version starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. She dedicated the book to him.)

Jane Hayes is a very likable heroine, with a habit of claiming every man she even slightly dated as a boyfriend. She is then heartbroken when he doesn’t immediately return her passionate, quickly-demonstrated feelings.

Her aunt sees that she is on the road to heartbreak, since she compares every man she meets with Mr. Darcy, and, of course, he comes up wanting. When the aunt dies, she gives Jane a gift in her will, a very specific gift. Three weeks at Pembrook Park, Kent, England.

At Pembrook Park, Jane receives the immersion course in Austen’s Regency England. Corsets, embroidery, and whist are now part of her daily routine. No cell phones or electronic devices allowed. She is surrounded by actors and actresses playing parts and other guests who are desperate for a romance.

Throw in a lusty gardener, an aloof Mr. Nobley who is extremely Darcy-like, and a rakish Colonel – and you have the makings of a very entertaining novel. Hale has a definite flair for comedic romance, and I hope this isn’t her last foray into novels for grown-ups.

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8 Responses to Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

  1. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12
    says:

    I read this one a year or two ago and thought it was pretty good. Normally I avoid Austen-realted fan fiction, but this one was good.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – I haven’t read a lot of Austen spin-offs, but I did enjoy this one.

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    You know, generally I avoid Austen spin-offs like the plague. I’m sure some are wonderful but for some reason it annoys me. But I know Shannon Hale is something, and it hurts me to admit that this actually sounds good to me. I probably just need to take the plunge, just this once.

  3. Anna says:

    You know this one is on my wish list, with my Austen obsession and all. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. stacybuckeye says:

    This one looks like a lot of fun.