Saturday, October 31, 2009


Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
ISBN: 978-1-59691-286-1

From the back cover:

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 Prejudice. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths to her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she could ever 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?

In this addictive, charming, and compassionate story, Shannon Hale brings out the Austen obsessive in all of us.

I own that BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth. I've watched it so many times I'm surprised I haven't had to replace it, and I'm happily married. :o) Mr. Darcy is... well he's Darcy. At one point in the story Jane tries to explain the draw of being in her English resort holiday (and playacting as if she lived in Austen's time) by explaining that any woman would understand if she just talked about Colin Firth dripping wet. I think most of us can picture that scene without much trouble, but that scene wasn't what made me fall in love with Pride and Prejudice.

I loved the things that were in the book and pictured even better in the movie ~ their witty banter, the tension that built between them as they danced, him gazing at her across the room and agonizing with frustration at his growing regard... her surprise and the twinkle in her eyes as she came to know him better and realized her feelings for what they were...

This was all done to a great degree and on many levels in this book. The banter that regencies are so well known for was present on many levels - whether it was done on purpose as part of the acting or as a guard to keep up a pretense on some character's part... the effects ranged from funny to touching to sad.

The characters in the book were not cardboard cutouts even though many were "actors" playing parts. They were multi-dimensional and each one added something unique to the story. By the end I felt almost as if Jane were a friend of mine who had shared with me what had happened to her instead of a character in a story. This book did a good job of keeping a reader hooked, entertained, and surprised. I don't think Jane Austen would have been upset at all to have had her name and characters connected with it.

If you're a fan of Austen, I think you'll enjoy Austenland.

By the way, on the 2nd of Nov I am still giving away a copy of The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul. I read the other 5 books by her that are in the related series ~ and they are even better than The Vanishing Sculptor! My son has been inhaling the books and wishes there were more. He doesn't know what he'll read when they run out (oh, the melodrama). They are really wonderful, creative books. Two of them won big awards. Just wanted to let you know so you don't forget the giveaway (must be US by the way - for legal reasons) and so you can look for the books in case you're interested.

Have a wonderful - and safe - weekend!

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