Thursday, July 1, 2010

Regarding Jana and "Austenland"

Title and Author: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Publishing Info
: Published by Bloomsbury USA, 2007.

How I got this book:
It was under the tree Christmas of 2009.

Why I read this book:
A very good friend recommended this book to me when she learned that I'm that hopeless romantic who wishes she lived in the good old days of Jane Austen's romances.

Stars: I give this book 5 heart-shaped stars because it was so cute and I got to live vicariously through the main character!

Austenland is like Disneyland for women who secretly wish they had a Mr. Darcy of their own. I think BBC’s version of Pride and Prejudice instilled a little bit of that longing in all of us. This problem is exactly what Jane Hayes suffers with. After dating a ton of losers, this single, 33-year-old, New Yorker has come to the conclusion that no man can compare to the sexy, debonair, and utterly romantic Mr. Darcy. She has given up on the male gender completely. One day when her mother and great-aunt Carolyn come over for a visit, they inadvertently discover her copy of the movie as it shifts and falls from its hiding place in Jane’s potted plant. Jane, of course, was mortified—as if they had discovered her drawer of scandalous underwear.

Six months later, Great-Aunt Carolyn passes away and leaves one thing for Jane in her will: a non-refundable, all-inclusive, three-week vacation to Pembrook Park in England where she will strip herself of modern conveniences and live just as Elizabeth Bennett did. After some panicked girl talk with her friend, she decides to humor her late aunt and go on the trip as one last fling before giving up on ever finding her Mr. Darcy. She’ll play out her fantasy and then throw her DVDs away.

She arrives at Pembrook Park and is given a new name, a new age (in Regency times, a woman her age would be considered a spinster and unmarriageable), a pamphlet on how to speak and act, a regency wardrobe (even her purple bra is confiscated and replaced with Regency undies), and is scurried off to teatime with her cell phone hidden illegally in the bottom of her trunk. She feels a little silly at first, but soon embraces this new way of life. She even enjoys it a little! Even though it’s all a game, her confidence improves and she’s convinced she can finally kick this Mr. Darcy obsession to the curb. However, these dreams of hers seem to be more attainable than she thought. With all the humor, charm, and sweet romance you could expect from a Jane Austen novel, Jane Hayes is well on her way to finding everything she hoped for.

This book had me before it even started when I read the dedication page: “For Colin Firth: You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.” I knew I was in for a fun read. I think part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because I identify so much with Jane Hayes. I’ve had my share of frogs in the proverbial dating pond, and understand her frustrations. However… I don’t hide my Pride and Prejudice DVD in a flowerpot. Hahaha. This was a fun, light-hearted read. It was very clean, obviously (since it’s modeled after a clean book), and I enjoyed watching the romance unfold. Jane got herself into some funny situations and was a bit rebellious at times—sneaking out to enjoy modern technology (sounds like something I’d do). I also love that each chapter started out with a story of one of Jane's romances-gone-bad. They were very humorous and made me feel a little better about my experiences! I enjoyed the characters, the detailed descriptions, and the storyline. I laughed, I got annoyed, I chewed characters out when they were being dumb, I turned the pages in anticipation, and I closed the book with a smile on my face. Most importantly, this book helped me remember that sometimes what you need is much different than what you want or what you’re looking for.

Happy reading! I’m off to pop some popcorn and watch Pride and Prejudice! (Colin, feel free to join me. I’m not married.)


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one... I'm a Jane lover and all, but as many positive reviews as I saw on Austen-related blogs, I could not bring myself to finish this one. It's on my "to get back to eventually" pile. I don't know why, I just got tired of the main character treating her love of Austen as something shameful and of her relationships with the two men. Maybe I'll give it another shot soon.

  2. I just wanted to say that this review was awesome!!! Lol. Your review had me laughing and smiling, especially the way you ended it! I think YOU should write your own book! Just because this review was written so well, and made me smile/laugh, it's definitely going on my "To Be Read" lists!

  3. This sounds like a great book for die hard Austen fans. I'm still trying to read all of Austen's novels! Long Live Pride and Prejudice!

  4. Great review! I have a ton of Austen novels on my bookshelf..I just need to get to them! Then we will see if I'm ready for this book! :)

  5. I SO need to read this book! It sounds like something I would really enjoy. I loved Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter, which also deals with the trouble of finding your own Mr Darcy.. Why doesn't he exist in real life? (sigh)

  6. This sounds like a great book! I love Austen re-tellings/sequels/etc. Austenland sounds like it'd be pretty funny! :)

  7. This sounds super fun! I love the dedication as well, and I will fight you for Colin Firth!

  8. This description reminds me of the PBS show Manner House, except the Regency. Also the BBC special I just saw called "Lost in Austin" except in that she is literally transported into the book and Elizabeth is transported to London.

    Sounds like a great book! I love the BBC P&P, but I can't say that I have ever gotten through an Austen novel. It's on my to do list... one day.

  9. Traci, I'm sorry you had a hard time finishing it. I was very skeptical of it, just because I've heard that Austen-related books are a bit cheesy. Maybe I was craving cheese that day! lol.

    Stuck Between the Pages - Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed my review! :) I've always wanted to be a writer.

    Daisy, I need to take a look at Me and Mr. Darcy! I've decided to dip more into this genre. :)

    Ash, you can fight all you want! May the best woman win! ;)

  10. Jana - It's a fantastic genre to be into :) I recommend Austenblog ( if you want recommendations. I also have a Jane Austen shelf on my Goodreads page you can check out! Recently, I read Beth Pattillo's two books (Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart) and I recommend them if you liked this. Reviews are on my blog :)

  11. Julia, I was thinking of that miniseries earlier when I read this review! It was fantastic. I had never been so in love with Mr. Darcy before. :)

  12. This sounds really adorable. I'm not much for the straight-up Austenish fanfic stuff (I'm more for the parodies), but this sounds really cute. Might give it a read.


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