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Friday, June 3, 2011

Austenland

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. It's unhealthy, and not normal at all. When her rich great aunt dies, instead of leaving Jane a fortune, Jane is bequeathed a three week vacation to Austenland. Austenland is the epitome of what every P&P-obsessed girl dreams of. Handsome men in Regency-era clothing, dancing, tea and games of whist. For three weeks, Jane Hayes doesn't have to be anyone. It's an escape like no other, and her chance to rid herself of her Darcy-obsession. Of course, nothing goes as we plan and Jane ends up with exactly what she wanted, just not in a way she expected.

Alright, it's an excellent premise. I am a self-proclaimed P&P obsessee. I love it. Especially the BBC version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Awesome. Naturally, this book caught my attention. I checked it out of the Library yesterday and stayed up until 1:30 am reading it. There's a certain charm about the novel, something that draws you in and doesn't let you put it down until it's over. That being said, I do not thing that this novel lived up to its true potential.


The prologue drew me in. It was witty and well-written and gave me insight into the character I was about to spend three and a half hours reading about. The next two chapters were... enlightening, to say the least. I say that because I don't know how else to describe it. Slowly, I felt like I was finding myself in a different world than the one of the prologue. It was less witty and more trying-too-hard-to-be-witty. I kept reading hoping the witty narrator would come back, but alas, they did not. 


I'm a big fan of Shannon Hale. I love every novel I've read by her, and it was mainly this reason that I felt so disappointed in Austenland. Besides the potential the subject had, the author gave more reason to expect this novel to be wonderful, and it just never quite measured up. Instead of fresh and new, it felt stale and overdone. The main character was annoying, and she behaved much more like 16-year-old than a thirty-something woman trying to do something different. Maybe that was the idea, but somehow it just didn't quite work.

I'll probably read the second one that's coming out in Jan 2012, because I've never been able to start a series and not finish it, and I still believe in the potential of the idea and the author. If you're ever bored on a rainy day or have nothing to do on a summer afternoon, I'd give this book a shot. It's got a great happy ending, although while Jane found she didn't need a Mr. Darcy after all, it only reinforced my desire for a Mr. Darcy of my own.

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Rating: 6 - Good; A Rainy Day Sort Of Book
Recommend For:
Jane Austen lovers, or anyone who needs something to while away the warm summer afternoons or cold winter evenings.

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