Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury 2007
Genre: Jane Austen tribute
Rating: 5/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Contemporary Romance; February Romance Month; A to Z Authors: H
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 tried another Jane Austen-esque book to finish my February Romance Month. And this one was surprisingly good. Basic plot summary: Jane, a Pride and Prejudice addict, has had such bad luck in the romance department that she convinces herself that she'll never find love. Her great-aunt Carolyn leaves her a trip to Pembrok Park, a Austen world immersion resort. Jane reluctantly goes, if nothing else, to once and for all rid herself of her Darcy obsession and resign herself to spinsterhood. Once there, Jane finds that the lines between and reality and play are very hard to distinguish. I won't give away the ending, but I will say that the book had me guessing til the very end.
The characters are likable (Jane), irritating (Miss Charming), devious (Mrs. Wattlesbrook), swoony (Colonel Andrews), mysterious (Mr. Nobley), and goofy yet adorable (Theodore). I felt for Jane as she tried to navigate Austen's universe, but a playacting version of Austen's universe. It almost became a mystery: who's who and what's their motivation. You never knew who was going to reveal something real or real sounding. The book reminded me of the movie Lost in Austen (one of my faves). Jane is completely out of place in Austen's world, but so desperately wants to belong there. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and can now add it to my library as I bought the book for a $1 at one of those crazy clearance sales I always seem to find.