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Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale
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Austenland: A Novel (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Shannon Hale

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7381804,074 (3.44)171
Member:BookMystique
Title:Austenland: A Novel
Authors:Shannon Hale
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2008), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Romance, Your library (inactive)
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Austenland by Shannon Hale (2007)

  1. 10
    Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (writemeg)
    writemeg: Another modern woman's look at life in Jane Austen's era -- with entertaining and surprising results.
  2. 10
    Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen (elbakerone)
  3. 21
    Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (elbakerone)
  4. 00
    Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Definitely check this out if you liked the other. Both chick lit, both very fast, light, and amusing reads for any Austen fan.
  5. 00
    Both Sides of Time and Out of Time by Caroline B. Cooney (RosyLibrarian)
  6. 01
    Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster (nicole_a_davis)
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» See also 171 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
Austen-Lovers' Unite!!! Following a series of dramatic and gut wrenching novels, I was starting to feel like my blog was becoming work. I decided to read Austenland to give myself a small break from the death, self-destruction, broken hearts, drug addictions and violence I so typically find myself reading. Reemerging a few days later, I felt like anyone taking a vacation – I didn’t want to leave. My blog review of Shannon Hale's Austenland. ( )
  breakingbooks | Aug 13, 2014 |
I might have given this another star if I had rated it sooner, after finishing it but before a night’s sleep. It was cute (charming, even), and nicely written (except for a few typos, like “snuggly” for “snugly”). I liked Jane and her list of “boyfriends”, some of whom weren’t, and her bemused adventures in Austenland. I liked the characters in general. I liked the concept of a sort of an exclusive Jane Austen theme park, I liked the flow of the book.

Austenland has a lot of the advantages of a time travel novel without such drawbacks as (for the characters) a lack of modern conveniences or (for the writer) such a wide array of anachronistic pitfalls. The reader can enjoy an Austen-esque novel without having to suppress a modern POV. The characters can enjoy (or not) the atmosphere of an immersive Regency environment, while still being able to take hot showers and sleep on modern mattresses. And anything that crops up which does not belong in a Regency setting is actually kind of a good thing; the characters, even the actors, aren’t necessarily going to be 100% flawless, and some anachronisms are built into the place. (For example, paint in tubes (not “pain in tubes”, as I keep typing, which is a whole other kettle of fish) was not invented until 1841, over thirty years after the setting for Austenland – but am I complaining? Nope.) So, well done.

But a deeper realization of the concept is disturbing. Austenland is a place where women (exclusively women?) spend a great deal of money to wear a corset and an Empire waist and pretend with all their might they are strolling through a Jane Austen novel. But by the end it becomes clear that the majority of women who come into the experience are married, looking for … something. And that something may include soulful gazes and genteel flirting, or it might include a non-Regency level of necking, and indeed seems to be supposed to include a proposal of marriage.

“We do not run a brothel here, miss,” says the proprietor of Austenland near the end of the book, and no, technically, I guess not … But someone’s comment about “a locked hotel room with [one of the Austenland actors] spread out on the bed” comes shortly after, so given everything, I am tempted to disagree. Does Austenland dress actors in tight breeches and hire them out for sex? Not as such. But it does dress actors in tight breeches and hire them out to pretend deep devotion and affection, and that’s just sad.

That lack of diversion annoyed me, a little. How is it that the patrons haven’t complained about that, and indeed how is it that that hasn’t been planned for? 21st century people need more stimulation than those living in the actual early 19th century; why aren’t the actors playing the hosts trained to keep the evenings a little more lively? Even an occasional game of charades might have been helpful. Drawing should have been encouraged among the guests, not something that Jane had to have help to get back into. If I planned to try opening (or writing about) a Jane Austen Experience I would do my damnedest to be a little more creative in the recreational activities available to clientele – boredom is deadly. (Perhaps literally, judging from the description for book 2.) Boredom is something a good hostess would not allow. Also, boredom could lead to … unauthorized activities.

Another ball might have been helpful.

And I can’t help finding it odd, very odd, that while most things down to clients’ underwear is strictly a la mode for the time period, there is a combination of oil lamps and electricity in the house. Why both in the same room? Why not either make life easier on everyone and go all flame-like light bulbs, or go all-in for authenticity and make them light candles and lamps (and make the servants clean and fill the latter)? Why allow showers, but not something as subtle as air conditioning? Granted, it’s England, which is rarely as hot in summer as more southerly climes, but if the clientele is generally rich and spoiled they are going to be as used to air conditioning – and heat in the winter; is that out too, or is Austenland strictly summery? – as they are to breathing oxygen; I was very surprised there wasn’t at least air conditioning in guests’ rooms, or in the ballroom for the final ball. I get allowing makeup - these women are out for flirtation (at least), so they are not going to be seen without their cosmetics. So why not allow modern undies instead of bloomers?

I think my rating slid downward a bit because, overnight, the froth and giddiness of the (really very sweet) ending wore off, and the patheticness at the heart of the program. Austenland isn’t something like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, intended as pure entertainment for fans of the books - - and that’s kind of what I was hoping it was. I’d love to see that, in reality or fiction. No, though, it seems it’s not really designed to entertain, given from the amount of sheer boredom everyone experiences in the Regency-authentic evenings. It’s designed to make rich women feel loved by a handsome man from another age for a few weeks. That’s horrifying. It’s degrading to the women, even if they’re doing it to themselves (and why on earth would Jane’s great-aunt think this was such a great idea?). More, of course, it’s degrading to those men in tight breeches … “Back to work.” In slightly other circumstances, they’d be called gigolos, no? Ew.

Really, the whole concept doesn’t do Jane Austen any favors, either. So, yeah. Four stars because it was a fun read on the surface; downgraded to three because thinking too much about the whole thing makes me a little queasy. ( )
  Stewartry | Jul 12, 2014 |
This is more of a three and a half star book, but one worth rounding up to four rather than down to three. Chick-lit isn't really my thing, but I like to read a good one every now and again for a quick read that I can just enjoy without having to think too much. And of course, this one has to do with Austen, so I decided to give it a shot.

To sum it up, it was really cute. I know that's not a literary term, but it really says it all. The narrator was easy to relate to, especially in terms of her feelings about Pembrook Park - a little embarrassed to be playing dress up, but still wanting to get lost in the fantasy anyways. It was fairly predictable, although it did have a couple nice little twists at the end. I think I smiled all the way through the last couple of chapters, which is always a good sign. I probably looked like a grinning idiot to everyone else at the lunch table at work, oh well! If you want something fluffy and fun, I would highly recommend this one. ( )
  bookwormam | Jul 8, 2014 |
Loved it! What can I say, I would love to go to Austenland, but I would take my own Mr. Bradford with me. ( )
  CharityBradford | Apr 1, 2014 |
Loved it! What can I say, I would love to go to Austenland, but I would take my own Mr. Bradford with me. ( )
  CharityBradford | Apr 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shannon Haleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
King, AmyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lind, MonicaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ratchford, PattiCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stemen, SaraDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Colin Firth

You're a really great guy, but I'm married,

so I think we should just be friends.
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It 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.
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Book description
From the dust jacket: "Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her life. No real man can compare.
When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined. Decked out in empire- waist gowns, stripped of her modern appliances, Jane throws herself into mastering Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen - or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them.
It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to vanish. Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?"
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Because her obsession with Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life, Jane Hayes is delighted when she gets the chance to take a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, where she hopes to meet a perfect Regency-era gentleman of her own. By the author of Princess Academy.… (more)

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