Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Austenland by Shannon Hale

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?

I really don't know what is going on with me lately. I have been all about Jane Austen this past month or two (which isn't a bad thing, it's just amusing to me). It must my obsessive pregnancy brain. I got a book from the library-- The Complete Works of Jane Austen-- and have been reading like a mad woman. I rented "Becoming Jane", partly because I am madly in love with James McAvoy (ok, mostly because of that!), and partly because I CAN'T GET ENOUGH of Jane! I cried like a baby--darn hormones.

So, as you can probably guess, this was right up my alley. The funny thing is that I checked this book out from the library over a month ago, and totally forgot about it! I was renewing my library books online and realized I still had it and had yet to read it. Of course, like an Austen-crazed lunatic, I picked it up and basically devoured it in one sitting. And yes, I waited 30 minutes to swim after doing so...

This was a fun, witty, very quick read. I loved Jane (the leading lady of the novel). I loved that she hid her BBC version of Pride and Prejudice in her house plants. I felt like she was a strong woman, even though she was a little bit lost. I loved that she "came into her own" throughout the book and I got to be a part of it. I loved that the author gave short blurbs about her "13 failed realtionships" every once in a while. It helped me understand Jane's character even more.

On another note-- who HASN'T seen Mr. Darcy a la Colin Firth and fantasized about what it would be like to be Elizabeth Bennett?? Let me tell you-- the "Mr. Darcy" of this book would do Colin proud. Mr. Nobley was spiteful and rude and just... full of himself. He was a character I loved to hate, because I was still loving him. Then he softened up a bit, and I loved him more.

Oh, to live in Regency England...

I guess that's actually sort of the point of the book. Separating the "real" from the "fantasy" in a relationship. Everyone wants to find a "Darcy", but we forget that he is the work of someone's (a very talented someone) imagination. If you hold out for a Mr. Darcy, you are going to be a very lonely lady. But, just because he doesn't exist, doesn't mean that there isn't someone who is perfect for you. Someone that is the Mr. Darcy to your Elizabeth Bennett.

Again, this was just a cute, fun novel. And it made me want a root beer... Happy reading!!

1 comment:

Chantele said...

I'm so glad you liked this one! I loved it too!:)