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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Posted by Irish in Review1 Comment

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Publication Year: 2007
ISBN: 1596912855
Format: hardcover
Pages: 208

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Anyone who has ever read (and enjoyed) Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice has most likely fallen in love with Mr. Darcy and with the time period in which Elizabeth Bennett lived. Mr. Darcy is often the first love of many girls and as we all know first loves are the hardest to forget and the basis by which all others are compared to. So you can imagine how hard it would be for any man to live up to a fictional character. How frustrating for the woman who is searching for love to deal with the flaws and imperfections that come from dating guys of the 20th century?

Jane Hayes is one such women. She is plagued by a serious of bad dates and bad boyfriends and is on the brink of giving up on love altogether. When a luncheon with her mom and her ailing (and rich) aunt leads to an inheritance beyond Jane’s imagination. For unbeknownst to her there is a place in England in which the world of Jane Austen’s books are recreated in 3 week intervals for the rich romantics to run around in. As part of the Austenland experience all modern conviences are stripped away….gone are the tvs and cell phones….and jeans. Enter in horse drawn carriages and corsets and rules of etiquette. Can a modern girl survive in the past? Is it possible to find love when everything around you isn’t real? These are the sort of questions that Jane must ask herself as she enters Austenland.

I found Austenland to be a quick, enjoyable read about what it might be like to try to live in the past. It is easy for a modern girl to read a book like Pride & Prejudice and think that she could live that life…she could be Elizabeth Bennett. Yet in Austenland, it becomes clear that it is not so easy as one might think to live in the world of Regency England. It was fun to watch as Jane blundered her way through the rules of society as she tried to fit in. Of hearing her inner voice scream inside her as she was made to sit for hours on end working on embrodery (a task she never did manage). Initially Jane went to Austenland as a way to escape from her life. A way to try to banish Mr Darcy from her heart so that she might be able to settle for some other man. Along the way, however, Jane learned more about herself then she thought possible.

If you are a fan of the world of Jane Austen. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to live in that time. Then this might be a good book for you to read. Its quick, its humorous at times (and painful at others). Its no award winner….but its fun. And sometimes that is all that matters.

One Response to “Austenland by Shannon Hale”

  1. QNPoohBear

    I had a lot of issues with this book and didn’t find it to be one of Hale’s best. I like her YA series Books of Bayern and felt she put more effort into creating a believable story in those.