Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Austenland by Shannon Hale

After reading about Austenland by Shannon Hale on several book blogs, I knew I needed to add it to my list.  Austenland is about a young woman, Jane, who is more than a little obsessed with Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy, specifically the Colin Firth version.  Can you blame the poor girl?  Because of her obsession, Jane's aunt sends her on a truly unique vacation- she gets to spend three weeks living like a Jane Austen character.  Jane travels to England, stays in a very old home, dresses in period clothing, commits to using period language and manners and lives her fantasy. 

I knew I liked this book from the very beginning and when I say the beginning that's just what I mean, as in the dedication page.  It reads:

For Colin Firth

You're a really great guy, but I'm married,
so I think we should just be friends.

Don't you love it already?  Starting with a good little chuckle is always a positive thing.  The book also documents poor Jane's failed past relationships.  Unfortunately for her, Jane thinks of almost any date as a "boyfriend" and the sentiments are not always returned.  I;m afraid she is a bit naive.  She begins with her first love, a young man named Alex.  They were four-years-old and in preschool.  The boyfriends begin each chapter, finally ending with a man who was twenty-nine and whom she refers to as "a jackass."  The book is about finding a way to be happy with who she is, only she's not quite sure how to do that.  One moment she is sure that she must swear off love and be happy alone with her  Pride and Prejudice DVDs.  The next moment she thinks she just needs to date more and burn the DVDs since they are giving her false expectations.

Is this the best book I've ever read?  No, but it was light and fun and it would be the perfect vacation read even if your vacation isn't in the English countryside.  After all, it's clever, it is the world of Austen and you can almost imagine the British accents and Colin Firth's lovely, lovely face. 

There is a sequel that I have reserved from the library and will soon be reading.  Also, Shannon Hale happens to be good friends with Stephenie Meyer who loved the book so much she produced a film version starring Keri Russell.  There is no release date set yet, but it is expected sometime this year.

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