As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

September 12, 2011

AUSTENLAND by Shannon Hale, 2007

Austenland: A NovelReview by Kim Harris Thacker, writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk host

Do you like books that make you laugh out loud? Or books that make you wriggle with happiness when you get to the last scene? Or books that make you say, I totally feel like that successful thirty-something career woman who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy but not just any Mr. Darcy, we’re talking about Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy–you know, the 1995-A&E-cinematic-adaptation-of-Pride-and-Prejudice Mr. Darcy?

Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E Miniseries)If you do . . . boy howdy, have I got a book recommendation for you! Here’s the description of AUSTENLAND from Amazon:

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?

Shall we sigh together, friends? Here we go. Siiiiiiiiigh.

This is a wonderful, happy book. I recommend it to Austen fans, of course, but also to anyone who wants a good laugh. Rest assured that it’s very well-written, too. The prose seems effortless, and the dialogue is spot-on. I completely lost myself in this book.

Here’s an excerpt so you can lose yourself, too, but then make sure you go find yourself so you can hurry hurry to buy a copy of this wonderful novel.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her. There was no husband, but those weren’t necessary anymore. There were boyfriends, and if they came and went in a regular stream of mutual dissatisfaction–well, that was the way of things, wasn’t it?

But Jane had a secret. By day she bustled and luncheoned and e-mailed and over-timed and just-in-timed, but sometimes, when she had the time to slip off her consignment store pumps and lounge on the hand-me-down sofa, she dimmed the lights, turned on her nine-inch television, and acknowledged what was missing.

Sometimes she watched Pride and Prejudice.

Midnight in Austenland: A NovelI really do hope you’ll give this delightful book a try! The sequel, MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND, comes out in January of 2012.

Note: I took my copy of AUSTENLAND to my very first Shannon Hale book signing, and now I have an autographed copy! I also own the Special Edition of the A&E Pride and Prejudice. Are you writhing with jealousy?

Market: adult fiction, realistic fiction (with wonderful references to classic Jane Austen novels)
Language: none
Sensuality: mild (plenty of kissing, but very pun intended) Violence: none
Mature Themes: romance, lies, stereotyping, misunderstandings of the most delicious and Austen-y kind, divorce

Book formats:

Another bit of cool news: The author, Shannon Hale, has spent the summer in England while the movie adaptation of AUSTENLAND has been filmed. You can read all about her on-set adventures on her blog.


Aimee said...

*Gasp* I didn't know there is a sequal coming out!!! Can't wait!!! Austenland is such a fun book!!!

Amy Finnegan {} said...

I'm really excited for both the movie and the sequel. I might be just a little addicted to all things Austen. For example, my BFF and I are in the process of booking tickets for the Jane Austen Festival next September, where 1000's of people dress up in Regency attire, have high tea, and a ball, for over a week. Our very own Austenland.

And it's in Bath, England, so you know, a girl must go where a girl MUST go! :)

Anonymous said...

Aimee: I know! It's so exciting!
Amy: I am SO JEALOUS. How awesome! And in Bath and all? Wowee.

Anonymous said...

A Jane Austen Festival in BATH? I must check into that! I picked up the book because of what I read on here. I read the "for so and so" part and fell in love instantly. I'm already into chapter three and can't put it down!

Natalie Gorna said...

Yay for Austenland! I actually was encouraged to read the book weeks and weeks ago when I first found out that Shannon Hale was producing her own film version of it, so I finished my journey through Austenland not long before this great review came out! Yes, I can't wait to read Midnight in Austenland, which will be a superb sequel, and yes, I so want to see the film with Keri Russell as Jane Hayes and J.J. Feild as Mr. Nobley!!!

Sarah P. said...

I loved Austenland as well. I had no idea there would be a sequel! So glad I know...except, now I'm impatient for it to come out.