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Austenland by Shannon Hale (final thoughts)

February 4, 2010

As she gave herself pause to breathe in that idea, the truth felt as obliterating as her no Santa Claus discovery at age eight. There is no Mr. Darcy. Or more likely, Mr. Darcy would actually be a boring, pompous pinhead. (p. 105)

30-something Jane Hayes has an obsession. No, it’s not clothes, or exercise, or even food. It’s Pride and Prejudice. Specifically, Mr. Darcy. Even more specifically, Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. To help her kick the habit, her elderly great-aunt left Jane something other than money in her final will and testament, something very specific. And so Jane finds herself at Pembrook Park for three weeks to fully immerse herself in Austen’s world and get those pesky Mr. Darcy fantasies out of her system once and for all.

Austenland started out a bit rough for me. Although I have many times wondered and dreamed about what it would be like to live in the Austen Era (really, what girl hasn’t?), I couldn’t related to Jane and her wishy-washiness. Even when she got to Pembrook Park, to the world she’s always fantasized about being part of, it took while for her to feel comfortable in her own skin. However, once Jane decided delve completely in and enjoy Austenland to its fullest, the last half of the book was absolutely delightful. And, seeing as the book clocks in at just under 200 pages, it really didn’t take too long to get there.

One of the joys of the book was watching Jane try to figure out what was real and what was fake in the fairytaleland that is Pembrook Park. The actors and even the guests were all playing parts, but what about the emotions? Were they real?

Another other joy of the book was the ending. And that’s all I’ll say on that subject. *sigh*

I’d love to see Austenland as a movie, when I was reading I could easily imagine it as a rom com. It didn’t surprise me to learn that while Shannon Hale was working on Austenland, she briefly considered writing it as a screenplay rather than a novel. I’m glad that it developed into a novel, but hopefully the dream of it being a movie will one day be realized.

Overall, Austenland is a fun, light read that doesn’t take itself, or Austen’s world, too seriously. And, as Alissa correctly predicted, the moment I fished it I ordered the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice DVD from the library.

My rating: 7.5/10

Related:
Teaser Tuesday

Challenges:
Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge 2/15
Read Your Name Challenge 2/5
Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge 3/25

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2010 7:00 pm

    I can definitely see Austenland as a movie, too! I actually just finished this one and enjoyed it, though Jane did annoy me at points. And I’ve been thinking about ordering the BBC version of “Pride & Prejudice,” too! SWOON! Hale’s enthusiasm for Colin Firth’s Darcy is contagious!

  2. February 4, 2010 7:16 pm

    Great review! It sounds like a lovely read.

  3. stacybuckeye permalink
    February 5, 2010 8:06 am

    Well, who isn’t a little obsessed with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy? I’ll have to look for this one.

  4. February 6, 2010 7:29 am

    It was light and fluffy for me. Cute, but nothing spectacular and though the ending was a “sigh” ending it was too unreal for me to get into it. But I think I was over analyzing it. I just have a hard time with Shannon Hale. I haven’t found a book yet that I’ve really enjoyed. Though, I’m glad you enjoyed this one toward the end! Great review!

    • February 7, 2010 8:39 pm

      I’m a bit partial to Colin Firth :-) Enjoyed your review, glad it picked up!

  5. February 8, 2010 12:38 am

    I really want to read this now – I love Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (even though he looks nothing like hime) and I think this would make a great movie!

  6. March 4, 2010 11:10 am

    I have been meaning to read this for like ever!

  7. April 22, 2010 12:04 pm

    I think it would be a most excellent movie. And you’re very right about her being wishy-washy for the first half. She’s definitely more fun once she gives in and tries to fit in.

  8. February 3, 2011 11:47 am

    I had fun imagining who might be casted in various roles at my blog.

  9. Melissa permalink
    May 2, 2011 1:39 pm

    I just got done listening to the audiobook, cheating I know. I loved it! I could picture every scene and every look from the characters. I would buy the movie if it is ever made into one. I must admit though I am a huge Jane Austen fan and would read anything even remotely related to her books. I can’t wait to read it again, this time I will actually read it. Amazing book the ending is that perfect ending I always look for in book and movies. Of course it not realistic its a book. Isn’t that the reason people read books like these? So they can be engrossed in a world that makes your heart melt for the characters. And yes I too am looking for Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.

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