15 September 2008

Review: Austenland, by Shannon Hale

The premise of this novel is that a modern, single woman, Jane Hayes, is looking for her own Mr. Darcy, as exemplified by Colin Firth in the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. An elderly aunt arranges for Jane to visit Autenland in England. Austenland is a fantasy/reenactment vacation, which allows women to enter into the world of Jane Austen. After a brief introduction to Regency manners and a few dance lessons, clients are taken by carriage to the country manor. The manor house comes equipped with costumes and a cast of characters who play maids, gardeners, and gentlemen suitors. Jane Hayes takes the trip as a last hurrah before she gives up on men entirely and embraces her single life.

This is a very light novel with a fairly predictable plot. On the other hand, the references to Austen's characters and novels and Jane Hayes's attempts to shed her modern manners, behavior, and expectations made this worth the read. This is not deep literature or a critique of Austen's works. It's an escape novel, perfect for a lazy Saturday or to read on the beach or in a airplane.

Published by Bloomsbury USA, 2007
ISBN-13: 9781596912854
Rating: B


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