Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review : Austenland by Shannon Hale

Women's Fiction Review

  • Release Date : May 29th, 2007
  • Publisher : Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Chicklit 
  • Page: 208
Synopsis :Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.  Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen . . . the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

If you click around, you will notice that I read most of the historical fiction for this blog, so I was drawn to Austenland when the e-book went on sale.  The continuing fascination, adaptation and evocation of  Jane Austen and her works appears to be endless, and I wanted to check it out for myself. I couldn't wait to see if a modern girl in a seemingly romantic era would end up as a fairytale or a fluffy disaster.

Austenland by Shannon Hale is a contemporary women's fiction with a slight historical twist. The light-hearted  novel  follows Jane Hayes, a 30-something Jane Austen addict who is skeptical, but hopeful to find her very own Mr. Darcy. When she inherits a vacation to a Jane Austen era immersion camp for women, she sets out to find true love and then some.
Set to be released in 2013

 This book did not take the direction I thought it would, while Jane isn't an out right rebel to the idea of finding love in a pretend world  she's also not a cravat happy fangirl. She is fun, sensible and sarcastic. Jane keeps her grip on reality and is willing to separate fact from fiction.

As readers we don't have to suspend of belief to enjoy the story because it doesn't expect us to believe that this experience  in "pretending to be a Regency aristocrat" is 100% immersive . 

With a little over 200 pages, the book isn't able to develop all of the main characters, specifically the male characters  I had a hard time telling them all apart. The supporting female characters were comic reliefs and one turns out to be a big surprise !

Not exactly a YA novel, but it's humor and romance might be just enough to make it a crossover. Hale wrote the screenplay for the film, which also led to her writing the sequel Midnight in Austenland. The film which was shot in 2011 debuted at 2013 Sundance Film Festival !  Here is to hoping for a theatrical release.


  1. This was a pretty fun book to read, especially if you're an Austen fan (which I kind of am). I loved the idea behind it and I really should read the next book!

  2. I really need to catch up. I've never even read a Jane Austen book. Seems I need to remedy that soon. This one sound like a light and fun addition to the Austen mania.

  3. I've only read one Jane Austen book and that's Northanger Abbey. I've read parts of Pride and Prejudice

  4. I also bought Austenland while it was on sale for Kindle. I've enjoyed the MG/YA books by Hale I've read so far, so I was curious to see what this adult novel would be like. Also: I love Pride and Prejudice and have watched most retellings of it. I am glad to hear that you didn't find this book to be super fluffy and that the protagonist isn't ridiculously unaware of the difference between wishful thinking and reality. I definitely need to keep this in mind when I want a short, fun read!


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