Book Review: Austenland

Austenland
By Shannon Hale

My Edition:
Paperback, 196 pages
2007, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781620404867

Jane Hayes has a pretty good life – except that she’s had a string of terrible relationships and she’s holding out for her fantasy man, Mr. Darcy. When a distant relative leaves Jane a vacation to Austenland in her will, Jane has a chance to live out her fantasy and hopefully get all that Darcy craving out of her system and face the real world. Or perhaps she’ll find her own Darcy after all?

I’ll admit, I saw the movie first, unaware there was a book. The movie was adorable (I love Keri Russell) and it turns out that it was pretty faithful to the book – which makes sense because it looks like Hale helped produce and write the screenplay.

After that letdown featuring our dashing Darcy as the most boring vampire in existence, I just wanted something fun and fluffy and Austenland delivered. Jane brushes up on her Regency era knowledge and sets out, excited to put this Darcy obsession behind her and also “swear off men for good.” Throughout the book she’s got a good sense of humor and she had a realistic mix of emotions regarding her experience in Austenland. Naturally she struggles with the swearing off men bit, and she drifts between finding the Regency experience fun and freeing, and totally ridiculous. I think that might be how I’d feel if I were to visit, so I was easily able to connect with her character.

At just shy of 200 pages, there’s not a lot to say about the book without giving away plot points. It’s a quick, entertaining read and I wish it were actually a little longer. Fans of the movie will likely enjoy the book and if you haven’t seen the movie but often wondered what it would be like to put yourself in an Austen novel, you’ll likely enjoy this too.

I only wish I didn’t have the movie cover (despite the hunks on the cover).

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