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Austenland by Shannon Hale

In a radical departure (for me), I read an adult book today. Make that a book for adults, as the former iteration has negative connotations somehow. Anyhoo.

Today, with much anticipation and even greater enjoyment, I read Austenland by Shannon Hale.

And, rather like my well-watched DVDs of the 1995 BBC/A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, I am looking forward to enjoying it all over again.

Is it because it's the best-written book ever? Probably not.

Is it because it's charming and fluttery and a frothy bit of wish fulfillment? You betcha.

Jane Hayes, single thirtysomething from NYC, is hopelessly infatuated with Mr. Darcy (as played by Colin Firth in the 1995 P&P). And with each failed actual romance, she drifts ever further into her fantasy world. When her great-aunt sniffs out Jane's obsession, poor Jane is left feeling as if she's been caught outdoors in her knickers. And when that great-aunt's legacy to Jane is an all-expense paid trip to Austenland, a three-week playacting/wish fulfillment place in England, Jane debates whether to go or not.

And I am so happy that she chose to go, where she exchanged her everyday panties for a set of cotton drawers, and traded her jeans for an empire-waist gown. Now known as Jane Erstwhile, she's expected to spend her time in character as a Regency era heroine, although with a comfy mattress and working bathroom facilities. Two other "young" ladies share the grounds with her, and at first, only two young men, but as time passes, a third joins as well. Jane spends time sorting out which Austen archetype each character is "playing," and finds her own affections torn between sanity, Mr. Nobley, and "Martin" the gardener.

Can Jane overcome her Darcy obsession once and for all? You'll have to read it (or rather, romp through it) yourself to find out. But I can tell you in all honesty that I adored this fun, funny book. Maybe even more than I liked the award-winning Princess Academy (I know! Shocking! Especially since this book is a grown-up romance novel!)

The best part? Teenage Hale fans can actually be let loose with this one, which, while not entirely chaste, is very nearly so. Will they get all the Austen references? Perhaps not. But the best part is, one needn't get the references in order to enjoy the very romantic plot of this novel.

I should note that Kirkus calls this "Mindless froth that Austen addicts will love." As if that's a bad thing.

Brava, Ms. Hale, brava!

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
That reviewer's got my ticket -- sounds like a push to sell to me :) Is this already out?? I thought it wasn't coming until June...(trots off to check).
May. 25th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
Nope -- it had a May release date. I bought it at the store yesterday.
May. 25th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
Gosh, that sounds good, and I really didn't like the Goose Girl at all...just not my thing. But I'm willing to give this a shot. Sounds like so much fun.
May. 25th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
It was fun. Fun, fun, fun!
May. 25th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
Heh. I'm number eleven in the hold queue at the library! Can't wait. :)
May. 25th, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
The funny thing is, that Kirkus is essentially right, but it's not a bad thing at all. It's a wonderfully good thing, in my opinion.
May. 25th, 2007 11:07 am (UTC)
Sounds like a fun read
I'll add it to my library holds list =)
May. 25th, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Sounds like a fun read
If you like romances and/or are a P&P fan, you'll definitely enjoy it.
May. 25th, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)
I thought of you when I saw the title of this book listed on Booksense Picks the other day. I'm glad you liked it.
May. 25th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
Liked it? I loved it!
(Deleted comment)
May. 25th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's supposed to be a May 29th release? But it must not have been a hard release date, because there it was, on the shelves.
(Deleted comment)
May. 25th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
I would have such a problem writing a boiler-plate review. Seriously.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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