Title: Austenland (#1)
Author: Shannon Hale
On the Shelves: Fiction> Romance
Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of “Pride and Predjudice.” When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? (Goodreads 2014)
I don’t feel the least bit guilty about liking this book. Honestly, I didn’t really have high expectations for it. I saw the trailer for the film (which I still have not seen), and then I discovered it was actually a book first and decided to read it before I watched it. I’m so glad I did. Although I saw nothing wrong with imagining Mr Nobley to be J.J Field because I do love Tilney (since he was Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey!).
In this book, you follow Jane, who is well..a Janeite. She is obsessed with all things Austen and in an effort to “get over” her obsession, a wealthy relative sends her on a trip to England, to experience “everything Austen”. During this trip she basically lives out the life of an Austen Heroine, with hilarious culture shocks, lovely characters and of course, the “Austen-Hero” figure. Jane was a good character, although she could’ve used a little more depth to her. Hale’s writing is enjoyable and I spent a good portion of this book laughing out loud.
One problem I had with this book was the whole idea of “getting over” her Austen Obsession. I mean I enjoy Jane Austen but I don’t think the world of her, and the worlds she wrote are certainly not without flaws. I, for once, would hate to have lived in that time period. Bad hygiene, no women’s rights and unless you were upper class English with both money and a good name, you were basically living in poverty for life, until the ripe old age of… forty? I’ll stick with medicine and having an opinion despite my genitals, thanks. But imagine if someone told us book-lovers to get over “our obsession”….there is no harm in having an escape from reality, as long as it is safe and puts nobody including yourself at any risk.
I really enjoyed this book on the whole, it made me laugh, it made me smile and I need to read the sequel. Especially since the sequel is apparently based around Northanger Abbey! I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Austen’s works.