Austenland by Shannon Hale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jane Hayes hasn't had much success in the boyfriend department--she's been dumped a dozen times over the years, sometimes quite painfully. She takes refuge in her favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice. (The real one, a.k.a. the BBC version starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.) Fantasy men like Mr. Darcy don't let you down like real men. Even so, she's reluctant to claim the inheritance left to her by her Aunt Carolyn: an all-expenses paid 3-week trip to Austenland in the UK where she'll live as Jane Austen and her characters did.
Jane eventually decides to make the most of her vacation, using it to immerse herself in her fantasy, thereby putting it to rest forever. Despite having sworn off men forever, Jane finds herself teasing the irritating Mr. Nobley, one of the male actors, and snogging Martin, a handsome gardener, and realizes she not only isn't ready to give up men, she likes the new freer Jane, who isn't so obsessed with finding The One. However, in a world where everyone's playing a role, how do you know what's real and what's not?
I saw and loved the movie a couple of years ago, not realizing it was based on a novel. I did enjoy reading the book, although I think I actually like the movie a little bit better, despite how closely the movie follows the novel. (I usually prefer the books!) It is a good beach read type of book--light and often humorous.
My younger self could really relate to Jane, although my current self wishes someone would smack her upside the head and remind her that there isn't anything wrong with being single, especially when the alternative is accepting a bad relationship like a needy ninny. In most respects, Jane is successful, and I wish she could SEE that and be more self-confident (ironically a trait that would almost certainly attract a better mate for her). My favorite part of the book was actually witnessing Jane rediscover her joy as a painter. I wish more authors would write stories about people who are happy, confident, and single. It can be done! The best romance authors often tell stories about characters who enjoy their lives and then happen to meet and fall in love with someone.
For readers' advisors: character doorway is primary. There is virtually no swearing and only kissing/making out (no sex). No violence, other than a small tussle in the airport.
View all my reviews