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Austenland by Shannon Hale

June 8, 2012

I can’t always read books written during or about Georgian and regency England, so as part of my Jane Austen Season I am going to read some Jane Austen fan literature. There must be a lot of Jane Austen obsessives out there, as there was no end of books to choose from to begin by dabbles into the genre. Austenland seemed like the obvious choice, as its seems very popular. There are two types of Austen fan lit, there are those who write sequels and continuations of Jane’s novels, others write about modern women entering into Austen related adventures. There are also those who re write Austen books with added monsters but I’ll save that for another post!

Austenland is basically chick lit with an Austen twist. The story is about singleton Jane, an American graphic designer with an unsuccessful string of short relationships and un unhealthy obsession with Mr Darcy. The matriarchal figures in her family believe her failure in the love department is down to the Darcy (Colin Firth) obsession. When her Great Aunt dies she leaves her a very interesting inheritance in her will.

Her great-aunt leaves her a trip to a secret location in Kent in which women (desperate ones) can have a complete regency experience. On arrival the women must sign a secrecy agreement, hand in all modern technology, mobile phones, cameras etc and dress in regency clothes. They then get to live, eat and socialize in true regency fashion. Most of the inhabitants of the house are actors, while two or three women will stay there and have their Austenesque fix, including a little romance from one of the resident Darcy-alikes.

The book is in fact pretty well written, and the structure of the book is really good. I enjoyed the flash back to each of Jane’s previous relationships at the beginning of each chapter. And the plot is funny, engaging and believable. I loved the characters especially Jane and Mr Nobely.

The book is a good length and makes for enjoyable light reading. This is the sort of thing I’d take on holiday to dip in and out of. The ending is great and exactly what I wanted it to be. So although this isn’t a book I would usually have read I must say i really enjoyed and would definitely recommend it to anyone who has wanted to go and have a little Mr Darcy romance themselves (Yes. I admit it!)

And on that note I will leave you with a little something to think about…

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