Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit
Pages: 196
Date Finished: 14 April 2008
My Rating: 3 Stars

I've had this book on hold at the library since February. (Popular book!) My husband came with me when I went to pick it up. I handed him my stack of books to hold onto and this one caught his attention. He started reading the book jacket and then started laughing out loud, quite loudly. "A book about someone obsessed with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? It's perfect for you!" I blushed a little. "I am not obsessed!" I said, grabbing the book from him. "I just know a good thing when I see it." And really, I am not obsessed, I just have a strong affinity for the movie and actor. :-) My husband just does not understand why I watch Pride and Prejudice so often, or more specifically why I watch the "Darcy Edition" as I like to call it. (I skip any scene that does not have Mr. Darcy in it.) He does not understand why I find such humor in saying "no, no. The green one" when he is getting dressed. (In my defense, I have not watched Pride and Prejudice in several months, not even the Darcy Edition. And I don't hide it in my house plants. In fact it is quite prominently displayed in my entertainment unit.) But anyway! I am supposed to be writing about the book here...

Sure, Jane had first read
Pride and Prejudice when she was sixteen, read it a dozen times since, and read all the other Austen novels at least twice, except Northanger Abbey (of course). But it wasn't until the BBC put a face on the story that those gentlemen in tight breeches had stepped out of her reader's imagination and into her nonfiction hopes. Stripped of Austen's funny, insightful, biting narrator, the movie became a pure romance. And Pride and Prejudice was the most stunning, bite-your-hand romance ever, the kind that stared straight into Jane's soul and made her shudder.It was embarrassing. She didn't really want to talk about it. So let's move on. (2)

Jane's great aunt uncovers her secret obsession and leaves Jane a non-refundable trip to Pembrook Park in her will. Pembrook park is a resort done up Regency Style complete with period clothing and social protocols. Women come to find their own Mr. Darcy. There was a bit of an ick factor for me in this part. It kinda reminded me of those reality dating shows on TV. Come to Pembrook Park to fall in fake love and become fake engaged.
The book was a quick and easy read. Chick-lit with a Jane Austen flare. I thought the ending was a bit rushed and I think our hero should have been fleshed out a bit more. Apparently you can read some alternate endings at Shannon Hale's Website. There are also some other goodies worth checking out there. Like Hale's letter to Colin Firth and her letter to Janeites. Hale has a very wry sense of humor and I think I enjoyed reading the items on her website even more than the novel. You can also find an excerpt from the book on the website.
I did enjoy the novel. It was fun reading about someone immersed in the regency era, wondering who was real and who was just acting. I appreciated that Hale did not try to re-write an Austen novel or even try to mimic Austen's style. As I already said, I think Hale has a wry sense of humor and so she really did not need to try to imitate someone else's.
I was left feeling thankful that I was happily married before I saw Pride and Prejudice for the first time! :-)


Rachel Langston said...

Thanks for your review! I have this book on my nightstand waiting for me to start this weekend! Looking forward to it.

Rachel Langston

Chain Reader said...

I just read this book today (in bed with a messed up back!) Very light and amusing--I thought it would make a cute chick flick--how about with Colin Firth?

Jeanette said...

I think it would make a decent chick flick and I would, of course, love to see Colin Firth in anything! After doing the Bridget Jones movies I doubt he will be taking on any more "Darcy" movies and besides I imagine he is probably too old for the characters...
Did you read Shannon Hale's letter to Colin Firth on her website?

Holly said...

I thought this book was simply delightful. It was a fun read, especially if you weren't looking for serious P&P stuff. I enjoy so few P&P take-offs and "sequels" that it was fun to find one that was actually likeable and entertaining!