Book Reveiw: Austenland by Shannon Hale

15 10 2012

Book Title:  Austenland

Author: Sharon Hale


I never realized how big of an obsession Pride and Prejudice was so many people until the last couple of years.  I believe I read with others in school like so many, and even read it on my own when my grandmother gave me a treasured copy (she was born in jolly old England.)  But really?  The men of P&P just seemed so formal.  How could you actually know if one might care for you?  I have been charmed by movies made of her books – but I enjoy historical fiction in general, and seeing actors who had played other roles in the 19th century finest amused me as much as the stories.

A friend recommended this book.

I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of contemporary fiction, so upon the onstart of the story, I was not thrilled with it.  Jane is in a very modern world. Although she does have a love for P&P, but it is more the feelings it creates than the setting. She has been unlucky in love – in fact has a mental list of all the boyfriends and their failings.  She meets her ailing Great Aunt at the start of the book, and they share a conversation about Mr. Darcy and the ideals he represents.  Upon the aunt’s death, Jane inherits a 3 week stay at Austenland, a role-playing resort that caters to rich women who want to have the P&P experience and discover what it means to meet a Darcy of their own.  While she is skeptical about it, she decides to give it a try.

There is something a little icky about this whole concept, isn’t there?  Women, most who are married, going to a resort to “fall in love” with a 19th century character?  The main character is single, but the rest?  And what about the actors? I don’t know.  Is it just a way to experience the world of Jane Austen?  Kind of like the “Love Boat” or “Fantasy Island” for Austen fans. Well, needless to say, it is fiction – so I pushed on.

I must say I enjoyed the contrasts of the Regency lifestyle to modern day society.  Watching Jane struggle with her sense of wanting something more real, and just playing these games.  Or trying to play them.  What was so fabulous about that time?  The women spent time sitting around, chatting and doing needle work.  Obviously not everyone had servants to do the chores, but they all seemed like fluff.  The men were quite good at putting together charming dialog.  I loved some of the banter.

Overall a fun, lite and short read for people who might have enjoyed P&P and be searching to channel their own Mr. Darcy.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

PS – Watch for the upcoming movie being released soon.




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