Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland: A Novel


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 don't really know why I read books like this. Books based on Jane Austen. Retelling, inspired by, prequels, etc. I don't know why I do it. I usually end up hating it. Unless it is just all in the present and only vaguely like her works. I just...I want that same style, the amazing writing and storyline and they usually just don't have that. They are fluff which would be okay, but I just expect more. That is on me I guess. Especially with Pride and Prejudice. That was the first Austen I read so it has a special place in my heart. So yeah.

The book opens with Jane who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy and she is just...I felt like maybe this book was supposed to be more humorous than I found it. Maybe her over the top crazy is supposed to be fun, but really I just didn't get it. She hides her BBC P&P, doesn't really seem to get what a boyfriend is. The beginning of the chapters list out her prior boyfriends and it seems like if a boy so much as says hello to her she calls him her boyfriend. It is like she just wants someone, but doesn't really care that much who it is. She is a bit crazy and desperate and just no. I didn't get her. Not everyone you talk to is a boyfriend.

Then her aunt who she barely knows dies leaving her a trip to Austen land, or what would be Austen land. Then the book gets worse for me. The lady running the place is so strict, but then it is not completely accurate for the times. The actors were just strange and Jane was is just so over the top obvious what will happen if you know P&P. I just thought it was a bit much, but then again not really deep or anything either. It was just a fluff retelling updated P&P which was not very good. I really should stay away from these things. If I want Austenlike I want Austenlike. I want good writing. I want great story. I want better than a light summer read surface fluff. Or I want something more cleverly disguised Austen story in a modern world, but still well written. I do not want this. It is just not for me.

Rating: 2/5

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads


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