Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I am a bit obsessed by all things Jane Austen and felt like reading some of the spin-offs. The number one spin-off for me so far has been Bridget Jones Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. They both follow the general plot of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion respectively, but do it in a subtle and unique way with many memorable characters.

Austenland opens in modern day New York City. Jane Hayes is a thirty-something singleton because no man measures up to Mr. Darcy, specifically Mr. Darcy as portrayed by Colin Firth in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series. Strangely Jane hides the DVDs in her plants as she is ashamed of them. As I have mine proudly displayed, I was confused by her shame. Jane's Great-Aunt Carolyn finds the hidden DVDs and Jane tells her the problem she has with men. After Great-Aunt Carolyn dies, she leaves Jane an all expense paid trip to Austenland in England.

At Austenland, women come to dress and live in the Regency period. Actors portray different Austinian type characters for them to interact with. Jane has problems adjusting to this world, but eventually finds herself enjoying it. Will she find love?

This book is very slim and a very quick read. It was an okay love story, but not the best. Characters were not fleshed out in depth and the ending was a bit strange and hurried at points. Overall, it was okay. If I ever went to an Austenland, I would want Ben with me so we could dance the country dances and he could dress in the sexy period outfit! :-) Otherwise, it was all bizarro to me that older married women would go there without their husbands so actors could flirt with them. Strange!

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