Thursday, July 30, 2009

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This is apart of the Everything Jane Austen Challenge hosted by Stephanie at Stephanie's Written Word.

The Plot:

Jane Hayes is a New Yorker who is in love with Colin Firth and he's ruining her love life. She isn't in love with Colin Firth the actor though..she's in love with his portayal of Mr. Darcy. None of her crappy boyfriends can live up to his standards. Her mom comes to visit her in New York, and she has lunch with her Great Aunt Carolyn who happens to be rich. She discovers her hidden copy of the BBC Production of Pride and Prejudice hidden in one of her plants. She tells Jane that she needs to get her life together and to "figure out what is real for her." Because everyone knows what happens if she doesn't: She'll wind up a spinster like Jane Austen did.

When her Aunt dies, she leaves something in her will for Jane. It's not money like her mom had hoped, but an all expenses paid vacation to's a Jane Austen like world. People dress and act like they are living in the days of Jane Austen. Everyone has to play a part.

Upon arriving all of Jane's modern things are taken away from her, and she is given the last name "erstwhile." Once there she meets Miss Charming a 50 something women who says weird things like: "what-what." in attempt, I guess when at a loss to speak like they would in the days of Jane Austen. This bothered me so much that the character grated on my last nerve. There is also the perfect Miss Heartwright. Then there are the men: Captain East, Colonel Andrews and Mr. Nobley.

Jane however breaks the rules and speaks to the hired help-a gardner. Once she meets him, she finds it hard to throw herself back into the regency role she's playing...could Jane possibly meet her own Mr. Darcy??

My review: I think that I've discovered what bothers me about Jane Austen themed books. (at least the ones I've read) All of the heroines blame their poor choice of boyfriends or lack their of on Mr. Darcy. They spend most of the book saying "woe is me" and by the time they realize that their mistakes are their own and Mr. Darcy and Jane Austen are not to blame, it's too late to save them and turn them into self assured women in my eyes.

One of the things that I enjoyed about this book was that we learned about Jane's past failed relationships through flashbacks. I enjoyed them, until I reached one chapter which had her age at 35 or possibly 40 as it said in the book (this was on page 79) which confused me as in the review I read on Amazon the character is supposed to be 33. Other chapters also have boyfriends at aged 38..I guess this shouldn't bother me as much as it did.

Another thing that bothered me was how shocked Jane continusely seemed to be when she would find the actors playing Colonel Andrews or the aunt at Austenland (Aunt Saffronia) doing things out of character when she would happen on them when they weren't acting. Hello! This is a role-playing place-they aren't really who they say they are!

This was yet another book where a couple gets together at the last minute. I suppose it isn't Shannon Hale's fault that this is the second book that I have read had their characters fall in love in the last 10 pages of the book...

I read where Shannon Hale was a Children's author before this book and in Amazon's review they had this listed for readers high school/adult aged. I guess as a YA book this would be a cute book-but why have the heroine so old if it's for YA? I guess I'm just not meant to like Jane Austen themed books.

I'm almost afraid to read "What would Jane Austen Do?"
Yikes! Just realized I never wrote my review for Persuasion! Off to correct that now!