I needed something light to read last week, and I found Austenland by Shannon Hale at my local library. I’ve had my eye out for this book for ages, ever since Lauren Willig recommended it on her blog, but it was really hard to find! And that’s a shame, because it is a very enjoyable book to read.
Jane Hayes is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. Specifically the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. So much so, that she suspects it is keeping her from having a successful relationship of her own. She’s beginning to think no modern man can measure up to Mr. Darcy.
Then her great aunt leaves Jane a vacation in Austenland in her will. Austenland is a three-week Regency “experience” with costumed actors and strict Regency manners that culminates in a ball and probably a romance with one of the “characters.” Jane hopes it will cure her Mr. Darcy obsession, but soon she is beginning to wonder. Will living out her fantasy cure her or just make things worse? And is it possible that while her character Miss Jane Erstwhile is being courted by the Darcy-like Mr. Nobley, the actor portraying him might actually be attracted to the real Jane?
So, you might be thinking, “Elizabeth, didn’t you recently write a post about not liking romance novels?” And yes, that was me. For some reason, I still like chick lit. (And I’m sorry if that term offends someone-I can see why it would, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest a viable alternative. If you know of one, please tell me!) I think it has a lot to do with humor-chick lit usually has plenty of it and romance just doesn’t have enough. The plot lines also tend to include plenty of character development, at least for the heroine, something that romance novels often lack.
I am giving this book four stars. I enjoyed reading it. If you’re an Austen fan, this would be a good book to put on your summer reading list! ★★★★