Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Genre: General fiction, classical twist
Publisher, Year: Bloomsbury, 2007
Other Works: The Goose Girl, Princess Academy
Rating: A+ or Must Read Now!
Challenge: Countdown
Premise: Unlucky in love, Jane Hayes is looking for a modern Mr. Darcy to jump from the BBC into her life. To get over her unhealthy obsession with one last hurrah, Jane spends three weeks in Regency England. Will she find her own Regency gentleman, or will she finally wake up and smell the stark scent of reality?

I was skeptical going into this book because I’ve been burned by other “modern-day” Austenesque books in the past. But, I still had some confidence because I’ve been wowed by Shannon Hale before. I thought, if anyone can pull this off, it would be her. I’m so happy to report that I was right! If you’re a Jane Austen fan and you haven’t picked this book up yet, don’t delay! Or even if you’ve only seen Austen movies or just heard of Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy, you will be able to love this book. It was a dream from page one! This book is screaming to be made into a screenplay—any takers? +/-

Jane is your typical disillusioned thirty-something, tired of love and tired of men. However, there’s something a little different about her: she’s head over heels for a fictional character of the Austen conjuring, an obsession that’s bordering on neurosis. In other words, Mr. Darcy is taking over her life. If she doesn’t act fast, she’s going to turn into a puddle of longing remorse. Luckily, Jane’s got an observant great aunt who just happens to leave her the chance of a lifetime in her will—a chance to step into a real-life Regency existence.

Pure gold. Seriously. I loved every minute. Somehow Hale is able to take those contrived moments, those catch phrases, and turn them into something new and fun. It was like being swept away in the “Regency” experience without being completely immersed—something that can never happen when “playing” at something. And yet, the experience beings out real parts of Jane and changes her in real ways. The reality versus the illusion: that classic battle.

Nearing the end, I was so hoping for a twist, but I was totally unable to see where one could possibly come from. And then BAM! it shows up—Emeril style. And I had the urge to immediately start reading from the beginning all over again! It was absolute perfection. Perfection, I tell you! This is a must read. It will not disappoint! I polished it off in two sittings. A great read for a day off!

No comments: