Thursday, August 4, 2011

Austenland by Shannon Hale

(Austenland #1)
by Shannon Hale
Summary from Goodreads:

"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?"


Austenland was like an engaging chic flick. It was sweet and simple yet heaved with a surprisingly beautiful ending.

I’ve always loved Shannon Hale’s books but I’ve only read them in YA genre so I was curious to see what she can offer for an adult genre. 

When I read the excerpt of Austenlaand, I was wowed with the idea. Imagine, living in the twenty-first century and yet you get to experience living the life in the 1800s. Even I was eager to be in Jane’s shoes. It’s like stepping into fantasyland for an unusually exciting vacation.

I will admit that am unfamiliar with Jane Austen’s books so I couldn’t relate to Jane’s obsession with Mr. Darcy. But I do understand the feeling of ogling over a fictional character. Duh! I do that too! LOL! 

Anyway, at first I was struggling to understand Jane’s character but as I progressed through the pages, I began to love her character. Her voice was very much engaging and the snippets about her ex-boyfriends were also something that helped me get to know her better. I won’t go into talking about any of the other characters in the story because I know it would strongly spoil the whole surprise of this book so I’ll move on to something else.

The progress of the book is a tad slow but I can’t blame Hale for it. I mean staying in an estate at Pembrook Park that caters life during 1816, what else is there to do but drink tea, make calls, and chat with the household and merry gentlemen? 

But the real deal was getting to know the people in Austenland. Everyone is an actor, even the clients themselves. You get to play a part that you’ve always fantasized to portray. And I got confused one too many times of trying to know who was actually being real. And I like the confusion I felt, it drew me closer to the book and made me eager to know who Jane would actually end up with because although there are strong hints to whom she’d choose, she makes these decisions that catches me by surprise; at first she gives up on guys, then she flings with someone, then she feels falling for this other guy, then she thinks she’ll just enjoy the attention and move on, and here comes the end of her vacation! And still no final statement over what she wants. Just when I thought her decision was a final, Hale surprises me with a very funny, amusing and gushy climax. That gives a very sweet ending to this humble yet invigorating tale.

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