A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{March 2, 2012}   Austenland by Shannon Hale

Plot: Jane Hayes is a thirty-something graphic designer with bad luck in love and an obsession with Mr. Darcy. When her Great-Aunt Carolyn bequeaths her a 3 week vacation at an Austen-themed resort, she is conflicted. Will this help her get over her fantasies or only encourage them? After a difficult start, Jane starts to enjoy her Regency persona and flirts with love. But it quickly becomes difficult to distinguish playacting and reality.

Hale had me from the dedication. It perfectly sets the tone for this funny, charming book:

For Colin Firth, You’re a great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.

I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and, like Jane Hayes, I have watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth, of course) far more often than is healthy. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted by a retreat like Austenland (even if the proprietress is quite detestable).

Hale’s novel didn’t change my mind, indeed it made me even more eager to visit, though Jane’s stay wasn’t always pleasant. She made me dream of period clothes, fine manners, bitting banter and flirting with handsome, charming men. But this wasn’t merely a fantasy, Jane’s feelings – her struggle between wanting to enjoy the holiday and her fear of believing too much in the game, her slow rediscovery of herself – made it real.

Besides, Mr. Nobley is the perfect Mr. Darcy. He completely charmed me, in his Regency persona and even more out of it. And he is only one of many men Jane flirts with (not even counting her string of ex-boyfriends, their stories humourously recounted at the start of each chapter). I finished the book with a smile; it was like waking from a pleasant dream.

To be honest, I’m still somewhat under the spell. I think I’ll end this evening at Pemberly with Colin Firth. Maybe reread some Austen…

Happily for me and my fellow Austen fans, there is to be another Austenland book, Midnight in Austenland, due out this spring and a movie is in the works.

2012 (#24)


[…] a huge Jane Austen fan and Hale’s first Austenland novel made me dream and wish for a vacation at Pembrooke Park. I mean, seriously, period costumes […]

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