Jul 13, 2008

Austenland, the Theme Park for the Rich


Shannon Hale's Austenland examines the twentieth century woman's obsession with Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy, and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Jane Hayes, a very typical first name for a Jane Austenesque novel, is a thirty-something career woman in New York, whose mother is concerned that she has given up on love because of an unhealthy obsession with Mr. Darcy. An impromptu meeting with Jane's Great Aunt Carolyn changes the course of this woman's life when she is bequeathed a non-refundable trip to Austenland in England, which traditionally caters to the fantasies of the wealthy, trophy wives of powerful businessmen.

I saw this book on Eclectic Closet and added it to my list of Jane Austen spin-off reads. It also helps fulfill my Irresistable Review Challenge. I have only 2 more books to read to finish off this challenge.

***Spoiler Alert***

Jane is hesitant to take up the task of severing her ties with her Mr. Darcy fantasies in Austenland, but ultimately decides to go and reclaim her "real" self and her ability to have a relationship without worrying about how it would end before it even began.

She is a bit of a crazy character who numbers her boyfriends even if she only spent as little as a few weeks with them. She arrives at Austenland to be lectured by Mrs. Wattlesbrook about her finances and how she is not their typical client and that if she breaks the rules, she will be kicked out. Jane is uncomfortable in Regency clothes and manners from the start. The false manners and pretense grate on her nerves, which is when she begins to seek out some normalcy in Austenland and turns to the gardener, Martin. How cliche in my opinion, but for this book it worked. I was still rooting for Mr. Nobley...aka Mr. Darcy.

Through a series of bungling moments, Jane gets trapped up with Martin and untangled from him. She then falls into the trappings of Austenland and Mr. Nobley. By the time her vacation ends, Jane has grown and changed...become a stronger woman.

***End Spoiler Alert***

I like this book because it is entertaining. Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice are my favorite part of classic literature. I like how Shannon Hale builds up Jane as a lost, romantic career woman who struggles to find her perfect man. I like how skeptical the character is throughout the Austenland experience and how she struggles with herself to stay focused on the act and immersing herself in the role she is expected to play. I also enjoyed how this character learned that she should not have given up her dreams and her artistic outlet of painting, despite her move to graphic design on a computer. Hale does a great job showing the reader how Jane evolves. The final scenes are spectacular and kept me enthralled until its conclusion.

Also Reviewed By:
It's All About Books (SUEY)
Book Escape
The Written Word
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

13 comments:

Katherine said...

Well, I guess each to their own... I really didn't like this book. But that's really just my own opinion--I'm not a fan of the Jane Austen knockoffs, preferring the original instead.

Suey said...

Want to link to my little review of this? I had to go back to remember if I had even reviewed it on my blog, but I did a little one way back when I was just getting going:

http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/2007/06/mini-review-austenland-by-shannon-hale.html

This makes me want to read it again!

Serena said...

Katherine:
I liked this book well enough. It is not something I would re-read, like I re-read Pride and Prejudice. It was just a fun little book that helped pass the time and kept me entertained. I haven't liked all of the so-called Austen knockoffs either. Thanks for stopping by. I will add your review of the book if you provide me with a link.

Suey: I will add your review to this post.

nbbaker1102 said...

I listened to this book on my MP3 player. It was entertaining, as many in the genre are.

I reviewed it on my blog at:
http://nbbaker1102.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/jane-austen-audio-edition/

Serena said...

I added your link to the post. Thanks for stopping by again. I try to keep up-to-date on all my new blogger buddies.

Stephanie said...

I also read this book and found it fun to read! You can see my review here, if you'd like: http://thewrittenword.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/austenland-frontier-house/

Serena said...

Thanks for the link, Stephanie! I've added it to the post.

Katherine said...

Here's a link to my review of this book: http://agirlwalksintoabookstore.blogspot.com/2008/04/review-austenland-by-shannon-hale.html

Darla D said...

I've been wondering about this book - sounds like an interesting read. Nice review!

And congratulations on ALMOST finishing the challenge! :-)

Serena said...

I have added your link to the post!

Serena said...

Thanks for stopping by Darla. I am excited to finish this challenge. As you can tell, I am on a roll.

Anna said...

Sounds like an interesting book. It can't be worse than The Jane Austen Book Club. LOL

Serena said...

Yeah, that Jane Austen Book Club was just awful...This one is much better.