Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale


Woah! I finished a book today! (Actually, it was yesterday but sigh, I fell asleep writing this review. Really. I left my laptop open. Sigh.) Woah! Excuse my excessive use of interjections. Okay, I do read, I do. But I usually start something and not finish it. I know, that’s a bad trait to have and I wanna fix it. (I’m the same with shows.) And I much prefer reading an actual book versus straining my eyes reading an ebook.

But then, I came across a review of Austenland of Shannon Hale. Though there was not a promise of pure enjoyment, I felt like reading something Austen-related. I haven’t finished reading Pride and Prejudice yet (sigh, I might have to reread it since I don’t know where I stopped) and the Pride and Prejudice movie is the only thing I have in my mind Austen-related but off I went and started reading the book. I guess I was just in for a romance. Ha! And the knowledge that it’s being made into a movie probably sparked my interest.

I actually started reading two Austen-themed ebooks. Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg that was sitting in my downloads folder for so long and this just-downloaded Austenland by Shannon Hale. Prom and Prejudice was a bit too high-school-y for me right now (though that’s normally mah ride) and had a too long intro. Haha! So I went for the movie-in-the-making (so I can compare the book and the movie soon), more forward one, which is Austenland. It was a really fast read because I finished it in under six hours (since I bathed, ate dinner and all that), and to think I’m more on the slow reader spectrum. Yeah.

So the plot. Jane Hayes is an early-thirty-something (I can’t remember, I think she was 32 at the start then 33 when the vacation started) graphic designer in New York and she has a secret: she is obsessed with Mr. Darcy. Screw BBC’s adaptation and Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy, it ruined her love life. No one compares to Mr. Darcy, no one, and there goes her love life. She keeps this secret under wraps until a rich, estranged relative finds her out and bequeaths her a nonrefundable vacation in Pembrook Park, an English resort for Austen-crazed fans. In here, the Regency-style in 1816 is copied and practiced to make the three-week long immersion to be the Experience. She comes here ready to purge her Darcy obsession for good and ready herself for spinsterhood, make this her last hurrah, but really, when is it ever the last hurrah? Haha!

Anyway, this was frothy delicious. And I love that period, from what I’ve seen in the Pride and Prejudice movie. But it’s really funny when Jane feels bored because really, what did women back then do? Knowing full well of technology, it might be hard to live just embroidering, walking in parks, reading in dull light and all that. Haha! Anyway, I won’t spoil anything much but that I was shipping Martin but oh well. And that the ending came a little bit fast for me, I feel like the conclusion was rushed so I actually have to re-read the last part for it to sink in. But aside from that minor gripe, I really enjoyed reading this. I thought that it was a nice touch to get to know her exes and how they didn’t live up to Mr. Darcy. I can’t blame her for being obsessed with Mr. Darcy because who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy? I mean, I guess I will be annoyed as hell with a real life Darcy, what, just say you love her already and don’t make her suffer! But then I guess the sweetness of the love comes from the nope-I-don’t-love-you-but-I-am-actually-falling-and-I-am-hiding-it. But really, Mr. Darcy would be really frustrating I think, to experience firsthand. I mean, I watch shows with the Darcy stereotype and it’s driving me nuts and batty at times though it feels pretty rewarding when they just freely fall in love. Okay, that was not related to my review, at all. Sigh, my short attention span and wandering mind.

I guess I am not that obsessed with Darcy to identify with Jane Hayes. I mean, I know I’ve never had a boyfriend but if in the future, would I compare them all to a fictional character? Am I that of an idealist? Would I go compare guys with TV and Book Boyfriends? I don’t think I would since I’m not doing it now. I hope I won’t so I can be spared of Jane’s problem. Haha! Anyway, back to the nowhere to be seen review…

I just wanna say that it isn’t ground-breaking or eye-opening and mostly froth and fluff, but if that’s your ride, you should probably take a chance with this book. It’s a short novel really and the story is entertaining and easy on the brains. No need to overthink haha! Perfect for my lazy Monday routine. So yeah.

Hope my review helped and do sound off your thoughts if you’ve read it! :)


About whoopeeyoo

I'm a TV and film junkie. Be it American, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, I watch them all. No wonder I don't have enough sleep and hard drive memory. Hee. And oh, fangirling is my business.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

  1. Have you ever seen Lost in Austen? It’s about a girl who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and she kinda gets sucked into the book and trades places with Lizzie. It’s awesome. Anyway, the reason I mention it is because she finds Darcy so horrible face to face and such a disappointment (at first, anyway). It’s true, I think Darcy in real life would be annoying – but then, Lizzie can’t stand him initially and then she gets to know him better.

    • Oh my Belle! Such an honor for you to grace this little space of mine. Heehee. And nope, I haven’t watched that. I just read the plot over Wiki and I am now in the process of obtaining it. Sounds fun to watch and it received critical praise too so why not? Thank you so much for the recommendation! :D I am currently browsing your book reviews and picking what to read next. Right after I read another Austen-related book, Prom and Prejudice. Heehee. Thanks again! :D

    • Maybe I need to finish Pride and Prejudice first before tackling another Austen book. Sigh, my short attention span. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment! :D I’ll tell you about Sense and Sensibility once I read it…someday. Haha! :P

  2. I’m a huge Shannon Hale fan. I actually own a signed copy of this book. I was first introduced to this book by an audio version so I have a harder time reading it, but I do love it.

    I’ve always loved the the Darcy stereotype, but it feels silly to compare drama Darcy characters to the original. I found her obsession more than a little ridiculous, but I think many of us have hopes for grand romances and are left a little unsatisfied when we meet a man who can never live up to our hopes. Especially ones we tend to leave unexpressed. Jane’s character is a bit more extreme.

    There is a sequel (or companion?) to this book called Midnight in Austenland which was more along the lines of Northhanger Abbey. That one left me really disappointed, but the character was a bit more realistic. Everyone is a bit more grounded in reality, but I wanted something a bit more fantastical. It was also one of those times where I didn’t believe what the main character saw because I was expecting the author to make a twist.

    I’m totally excited for the movie!

    • I’m excited for the movie too! I think Jane’s character will play out better in a movie rather than a book. I haven’t read Midnight in Austenland but it is in my to-read pile. So is this your first Shannon Hale book, Deeno? Do you have any Shannon Hale novels you want to recommend to me? And, I haven’t tried audio books because I’m afraid I’ll sleep through them. But now that school started, I guess I have to try that one out. :P

      • I think she will be a nice movie character too. My first Shannon Hale book was Goose Girl and I read it my senior year of high school. About 8 years ago. I loved that it was based on of my favorite fairy tales growing up. One that I’m sure no one else had ever read. Hehe. She’s done her fair share of YA fantasy, which is still my preferred genre. My favorite book has been Austenland, but the Actor and Housewife is a close second. It’s more religious than her other books, but had me sobbing. Goose Girl is a good one too.

        She has a blog, which I love reading. She shared a lot of stories about being on set during the filming of Austenland. Her blog makes her seem like a completely normal person, which makes me like her all the more.

        I only listen to audio books when I’m on long car trips. Or when there are fewer holds on them at the library. Yay! Harry Potter is amazing on long car trips.

        • I tend to gravitate to books people I know recommended to me so I’m gonna give Shannon Hale’s books a spin and hopefully I’ll like/love them. I liked Austenland so I hope it’s an indication. Heehee. Thanks so much for the recommendations! :D I’m reading her blog right now and you’re right, it’s entertaining and a fun read. Another blog to bookmark. Thanks, Deeno! :DD

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