AustenlandIt is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her.

Austenland was a really light read, but it was fun and feel-good. Sometimes I just need to read something that’s not very deep but is good for a laugh or two.Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man—perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?”

I can well relate to Jane’s obsession; I can’t count how many times I’ve watched that version. Though I don’t hide my copy in a potted plant like Jane does. But seriously, Jane is thirty-four, and she’s so obsessed. All of her romantic relationships have ended poorly, so she always goes back to watching Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Her fantasies are so much better than real-life. 

This book is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s definitely chick-lit, a genre which I normally despise. But this is not teen chick-lit, which in my opinion is nauseating. It’s adult chick-lit, I suppose. Really, I think the whole genre of (teenage) chick-lit is kind of stupid. I mean, is there really a certain type of book that only teenage girls read? I suppose there is. But I’ve read perhaps one teenage chick-lit book, and it was awful. There are two reasons that I justify reading Austenland

The first reason that I read is, of course, that I love Jane Austen’s books, and I do also really love the 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice. This is basically just Jane Austen fan-fiction that got published, and the plot looked pretty interesting. 

The second reason is that the author is Shannon Hale. I love most of Shannon Hale’s fantasy novels: Princess Academy, Enna Burning, The Goose Girl, etc. I wanted to see what her writing for adults was like. It was really quite different, though still excellent. All of her books are fantasies of sorts; when you go to Austenland, you basically dress up in period costumes and pretend it’s 1816. I wonder what Jane Austen would think of it. 

The writing, however, is quite contemporary. Shannon Hale doesn’t attempt to imitate Jane Austen in her writing; it’s basically just Jane’s reflections, and she is a modern woman. I liked that aspect of it; writing like Jane Austen in the present day would have just felt very forced. 

Why are light books always called “summer reads”? Shouldn’t one be reading something light-hearted in the cold and dreary winter to cheer you up? But Austenland would be a fun book to read on the beach. However, reading it in the spring and during a rather stressful time of year was fun and very good for me. I would recommend this one. It wasn’t super thought-provoking, but I did really enjoy the writing and plot. Austenland is being made into a movie this year, and I look forward to (possibly) watching it.

Read Austenland:

  • if you like Jane Austen
  • if you like Shannon Hale
  • if you like light romance

194 pages. 

Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)! 

It’s not great literature, but in its genre, it’s pretty good.