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Monday, June 11, 2012

My Favorite Book: Austenland, a review

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , , ,
Re-reading and reviewing the books that are near and dear:
Austenland
by Shannon Hale


Plot Summary:
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; or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet 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?

Review:
Confession.  I'm not a big Jane Austen fan.  I'm an Anglophile, I like the time period, I like the manners, and the costumes.  I like the movie versions (for the most part) and enjoy the storylines.  But for some reason her writing doesn't do anything for me.  Too confined and proper perhaps - along the lines of Charlotte Bronte's opinion on Austen.  But for me, Austenland is not about Jane Austen.  It's for those girls who have that character crush, and then see that movie with that actor, and he just captures the whole reason for crushing on the character somehow.  And then everything just gets worse.  You probably understand.  I understand.  The point is though, Shannon Hale understands.  And she wrote this book for us.  And it is gloriously funny, touching, irreverent, and just plain understanding.  Because I know the character isn't real, the actors are just playing a part, and perfect guys don't exist.  But I don't read books to reinforce reality.  I have a 9-5 job for that.  So with Jane Hayes I can play and just imagine what it might be like.  And feel a little silly for it, but it's okay because Jane is my funny friend and knows just how silly it all is too. 


Having hilarious but insightful thoughts coming from a character isn't all this book offers though.  The romance is light and chick-lit-y, but absolutely heart-warming and smile-inducing.  There are short, entertaining chapters illuminating Jane's previous boyfriends and sharply drawn characters that always made me laugh.  The nature of this book is wish-fulfillment for females, I think, and it doesn't disappoint at all.  Add the humor, romance, and witty writing, and this is one of my most highly recommended light, entertaining reads.  

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