Friday, November 29

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane has dreamed her whole life of Mr. Darcy, but her experience with real men hasn't been so sweet. Now in her early thirties, she has to decide whether to let go of her obsession or move on. Just when she has made up her mind, she is whisked away to Pembrook Park, a vacation spot in England where guests live for a few weeks as they would have in Austen’s time, with actors to enrich the experience.

Deciding to make this her one last fling into the world of Pride and Prejudice, Jane is soon confronted with the realities of her ideal and the fakeness of the place she finds herself in. Mr. Nobley is hardly the Darcy she dreamed of and he is after all, just an actor playing his part. Can she allow herself to be swept away into the arms of a character? Or is this the final wakeup call she needs to move on with her modern life?

I stumbled across the trailer for the film adaptation of Austenland and was hooked. When I discovered that the audio book was narrated by Katherine Kellgren – who also narrated Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – I knew I had to have it. I devoured the book in two sittings.

The novel explores romanticised ideals and how readers put characters on pedestals, but when immersed in a Georgian England setting, the pseudo reality is jarring. I liked that Hale didn’t embellish the fantasy. Jane’s romantic interactions at Pembrook are not straight forward or frivolous. She is very aware of her desire to immerse herself in the experience and simultaneously reject it.

I liked that where the concept of a love interest end game was concerned, nothing was neat. Jane was yearning for a certain perfection, when really what she needed was someone who could be as flawed and muddled in their moments as she was.

Austenland was a beautifully narrated story – in close person POV – that often made me laugh loudly. Was continually questioning and guessing at the story’s events, but it always managed to surprise me. I look forward to seeing the film adaptation and reading more from Hale.

I would recommend ‘Austenland’ to any Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice lover, as well as those who enjoy a good story that turns idealism on its head, while still managing to satisfy the romantic reader.

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Bloomsbury and is used solely as an aide to the review.

1 comment:

Emma Michaels said...

I keep hearing about this one! I'll have to try it out. You always give the best recommendations. <3