December 10, 2011

Pride & Prejudice & Modern Society • Austenland

Austenland book cover
Austenland by Shannon Hale
Series: Austenland #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: May 29, 2007
Source/Format: Bought || Kindle e-book

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?

It is only now that I'm a little older that I enjoy reading Jane Austen. I believe if I'd tried to read her work when I was younger, I wouldn't have managed to comprehend and appreciate Austen as much as I do now. I was instantly intrigued when I saw the synopsis for Austenland (and how it involved Austen) - and when it came up as a good deal on Amazon, I snapped up the Kindle version straightaway.

Austenland is a cute, easy and fun read. I found myself rushing to finish the story and find out what happens in the end - and the ending satisfied me and left me with nothing but good vibes. It plays a lot on famous Austen stories and brings to life an interesting and faintly familiar (in a way) cast of characters.

I thought it was a great "what if" story, by which I mean, a story which places a character in a situation where they can live out their what if moment. Jane is given the opportunity to live out her fantasies of Regency era England and find her own Mr. Darcy (a fictional character she's not so secretly obsessed with), via the generosity of a relative. It's fun to read about her adventures, especially since she experiences both the positives and the negatives of the era for herself and runs into a few funny moments along the way.

The best part of the story, however, is the love story that brews the whole time. I knew from the very start that the male lead would be a Darcy-esque character, and I was quite right. I did love how everything was played out though, especially how it culminates in that one splendid moment. I still smile just thinking about it!

I enjoyed Austenland - it elicited quite a few gasps, groans and giggles from me while I read it. Any book that causes such a strong emotional response definitely gets a thumbs up from me!


  1. Oh this one sure does sound adorable! I have not read any Austen books yet but I do know the major plots to the more famous ones. (Plus the movies tend to help!) I do remember reading the synopsis of this one a while ago and thinking it sounded interesting! Great review :)

  2. I've seen this book in a LOT of places, but haven't picked it up yet I didn't read Jane Austen until a few years ago, and I don't think I would have appreciated it as much if I'd read it earlier either. I think I'll definitely pick up Austenland now. Thanks so much for the great review, Alexa. Hope you're having a great weekend! :)

  3. I have heart some really great things about this book and I have no idea why I have not read it yet. Love Jane Austen so really should just read it. Actually will buy it now - thanks for reminding me that I need this book :-)

  4. YAY! I really enjoyed this one as well and am looking forward to reading the sequel Midnight in Austenland :) I thought it was really cute and the airport scene at the end? SWOON! :D Glad you liked it! :)

  5. I LOVED THAT AIRPORT SCENE. I was fist pumping and cheering when I got to that part, haha. I can't wait for Midnight in Austenland!

  6. It really is pretty cute! And I haven't read too many Austen books (just two as a matter of fact), but it's easy enough to enjoy the story even without that background.

  7. Austenland seems like a really fun read, especially since I love Jane Austen and Shannon Hale. :) I'm definitely going to read this!


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