Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

The Experience: 

3:00 pm:  I must get out of the house or I will go batty.  Look!  A Barnes&Noble coupon sitting in my printer!  Expires today!  *gets in car, leaves*

3:30 pm:  *buys Austenland by Shannon Hale*

5:30 pm:  I'm SO tired.  This is just one of those tired days...  I'm going to go to sleep at nine o'clock--maybe earlier.  *yawn, droop*

9:30 pm:  Finally, I'm done with everything and I can go to sleep!  *brushes teeth*  I know, I'll read that good-looking book I got today until I pass out. 

10:00 pm:  *starts reading Austenland; is amused by the dedication even before the book starts* 

10:30 pm:  *does not pass out* 

11:42 pm:  *develops awful cramp in right shoulder*


2:30 am:  That was excellent.  I can't stop smiling.  What time is it?  2:30 in the morning?  HOW did I not fall asleep?!  *both texts and facebook messages Tyler-Rose about what a good book it was*

Other things you should know:  The "men in cravats" label attached to this post is so, so, sooooo very deserved.  It's a quick, engaging read with a fun, casual, beautifully hopeless, and sympathetic narrator.  It's also suspenseful, down to the very end. 

What I was most impressed with was the way Hale captured the bending of reality that the main character was experiencing.  She made you stand there right beside Jane, trying to figure out where the line between reality and make-believe actually was.  For me, the way Hale maintained this confusing, intoxicating balance is what distinquishes this book.  The premise is unique and intriquing, the plot was well-executed...but the fact that I was always self-consciously asking myself, "Wait, what IS real here?" was just plain cool

Thank you to Tyler-Rose for repeatedly recommending this book to me!  It was well-worth the loss of sleep!

Buy Austenland from B&N. 

Buy Austenland from Amazon.

And oh, yeah.  Here's a synopsis from Goodreads: 

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?

Just go read it!  Trust me!


  1. Haha and of course, since I spent the past two days at WriteOnCon, I feel the need to add: that synopsis is an excellent example of how a query letter should read. :D

    1. Go buy the next one! "Midnight in Austenland" It is just as good. As the first plays off of Pride and Prejudice the second plays off of Northanger Abbey. Sorry for my absence. Charging down the home stretch towards a finished draft. Word count as of this minute: 95,679.

    2. The both of them were really very good.

    3. Aaaaand Tyler-Rose lives! (I figured you were drafting madly.) Hi A! :D

  2. I read this a while back and loved it-- now I have to pull out my copy and relive it again. (But, yeah... Austen geek here)