Thursday, February 04, 2010

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Here is a buddy review with Chris from book-a-rama. I have the first half of the discussion and she has the second. We coordinated dates, but I failed to ask her what time she was posting, so hopefully we are not too far off from each other!
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen—or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Chris: So first things first, did you like Austenland?

Kelly: For the most part I did. It was a little more fluffy than I normally read, but I don't think that Shannon Hale can write a bad book. I have read most of her young adult fiction, but this was my first time reading her adult fiction. I wasn't sure because it is Jane Austen fan-fiction, really, but I think that she pulled it off. The genre is getting a bit over-done for my taste, but this one was a worthwhile read. Nothing that I will have to reread, but an enjoyable experience nonetheless. What about you?

Chris: Yes, I did. This was my first Shannon Hale book. She's a very good writer. It was a fun read. I was never bored or felt that it lagged. I was even surprised by some of the twists at the end. I don't think I'll be re-reading either it but I did enjoy it while I was reading it.

Chris: What did you think of Pembrook Park? Would you like to take a vacation like that?

Kelly: I was thinking about this as I read the book and while it was fun to read about, I don't think it interests me that much. I am not very girlie in the 21st-century, so I am not very interested in the attire of that century either. It is fun to read about, but that's as far as I need to take it. That might change if the opportunity was presented to me, but for the moment I will take a pass.

Chris: An Austenland vacation would be right up my alley. It would be fun to dress up and play a part for awhile. I think it would be hard on the head, as Jane found out, trying to follow the rules and be the Austen girl when you know it's all fake. Some of the women had it down to an art though! They also spent a lot of time sitting around and playing whist. That might be a bit boring but no more so than a beach vacation.

Kelly: What did you think of the characters?

Chris: I like Jane even though at the beginning she annoyed me a bit. The men were interesting. I really didn't know how that was going to play out. I was a bit disappointed with Mr Nobley at the end. I thought "Miss Charming" was hilarious and was surprised by Amelia. The one thing that bothered me though was Mrs Wattlesbrook. What was her problem with Jane? Okay, so Jane's not rich but she's still getting paid.

Kelly: Yeah, the treatment of Jane by Mrs. Wattlesbrook was annoying. Maybe that is why she has such a humourous name? So you can hate her, but laugh at her at the same time. Amelia surprised me, too! That was one of the best-written characters in a novel, I think. I didn't expect what happened at all. I didn't really like Jane by times, but she grew on me by the end.

Chris: Stephanie (Written Word) just told me that Shannon Hale is writing a sequel. Do you have any interest in that? Or did the book end where you expected it to?

Kelly: A sequel? I don't really understand what the purpose of a sequel would be. I think that the book ended fine. There is not really much else that needs to be elaborated on... I'll probably still read it eventually because I read everything by her, but I don't really see the point of it. What do you think about it? What did you think about the ending in general? Did you like it?

Chris: I'd probably read it but, like you, I'm not sure what else there is to add to the story. I don't know how I feel about the end. There was a lot of build up- which guy will she choose?- but there was something a bit off. I think the guy seemed a little needy. I don't know how to explain my feelings on it without giving too much away.

Head on over to her blog to read the second half of the review!


  1. I have got to pick up this book. I really think that I would enjoy it much better than I liked the movie. They cut out a lot of the books yet made it much longer at the same time.

  2. This is a great way to review a book! I'm almost Austen-ed out but I may still pick this up.

  3. I really enjoyed Austenland! It definitely felt like Austen fan fiction to me at points, but that didn't bother me too much. A vacation to a place like Pembrook Park would be fun for a week or so, I think, but after that? I'd be ready to get my iPod, laptop and cell phone back!

  4. I really enjoyed this one, and I didn't know a sequel was being written. I definitely can't wait for that.

  5. Sequel in that a different person has an experience at Pembrook Park. Or at least that's what I understood from what Shannon wrote on her blog. This is one of my "when I need a light, fast, fun" books. Glad it didn't sit too badly. :-)

  6. I so enjoyed this one and would love to visit a Pembrook review!

  7. I'll probably never read this, but I really enjoyed reading this half of your joint review. Heading over to read the rest.

  8. I enjoyed reading both reviews and your interview. Great format. I love Shannon Hale but this wasn't my favorite. I agree, it's perfect for when you need a light fluffy time-out.

  9. That was really fun reading both of your posts. I loved Austenland, but it didn't sound like a very fun place to me. Maybe if they hadn't been so cruel to the heroind (which did seem odd to me). Otherwise, I liked the story. I didn't think it was all that fluffy, but I've read some serious fluff!

  10. Anonymous12:39 AM


  11. As I read this I enjoyed it, but I kept wondering what woman would voluntarily "go back" to a time in which an intelligent woman (Austen) had to hide her writing in her knitting basket? It's not an attractive role-playing situation, at least for me.

  12. I think this book would make a perfect romantic-comedy type of movie (and even heard a rumor that it has been optioned for one).
    Oh, and if I were single I DEFINITELY go to Austenland. ;)

  13. This sounds like a *lot* of fun so will definitely keep an eye out for it.

  14. I love Shannon Hale and really must pick this one up!

  15. Great review and discussion - lovely blog - wow!

  16. Austen sequels and spin-offs are my guilty pleasure so I think I'd enjoy this one.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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