Book Review: Austenland, by Shannon Hale

I read this book in one sitting, as I often do with any book by Hale.  That’s not meant to imply her writing is simple or her plots are austenland-book-covershallow.  I just always find with Hale’s books that I want to stay immersed in any world she has created and lap up her way with the English language.  This woman is brilliant, she is.

Some readers MAY find Austenland a bit harder to entertain, however, because I really do think it takes a lover of Jane Austen, and specifically of Pride and Prejudice, to appreciate the warmth and sentiment Hale has put into this story.  It’s much more than what readers refer to as “fanfiction.”

Austenland is the story of Jane Hayes, “a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and a fabulous hairdo,” who finds herself unmarried and harboring a dangerous obsession with the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice.  Her aged great-aunt figures out Jane’s little secret and leaves something special for Jane in her will:  an all expense paid trip to Pembrook Park, Kent, England.

At Pembrook Park, Austen’s world comes alive with everyone taking on a different “character” and every detail of Victorian life painstakingly reproduced (right down to the corsets!).  It is quite funny to follow Jane’s slow conversion to playing along with things, and read about her internal struggle between fantasy and reality.  I laughed out loud several times, and found myself smiling through nearly the entire reading.

If this book hasn’t been optioned as a film yet, it should be.  PRONTO!  That way I can eventually put the DVD right next to my own copy of the A&E masterpiece and have more outlets for my own Austen addiction!

Related Link:  From Shannon’s blog, here she writes about being a writer

*Disclosure: Amazon affiliate link included.