Book Review: Midnight In Austenland by Shannon Hale

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Midnight In Austenland by Shannon Hale

Published January 31st 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 6th 2012)

277 Pages

Goodreads Summary: When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests’ Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn’t sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside’s mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte’s heart be a sign of real-life love?

Review: I read this book for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge.  After reading Austenland and only liking it, not loving it, I didn’t have high hopes for this sequel.  In fact, I even thought about just skipping it altogether.  But it was a pretty short book so I decided to just read it anyways.  The main character, Charlotte, was incredibly irritating to me.  She was such a pushover!  Only when she became more comfortable with the actor playing her character’s brother did she begin to grow and step out of her pushover ways.  I was really bored with this book until she was actually at Pembrook Park and Captain Andrews decided to make his own entertainment for the guests.  Captain Andrews made up spooky tale of Mary Francis and the nuns from the nearby abbey that died under very suspicious circumstances.  Even though it was a made up story, there were some creepy elements to it.  Which paired with what was actually going on under their noses made the last half of the book very engaging.  The parallels between Charlotte and Catherine Morland from Austen’s Northanger Abbey are very obvious and at one point Charlotte makes the comparison herself.  Still, it wasn’t enough to make me love this book.  I liked it but like the first book will never buy it and probably never read it again.

3/5 stars

Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

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Austenland by Shannon Hale

Published May 29th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2007)

197 Pages

Goodreads Summary: 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 love life: no real man can compare. But 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, Jane struggles to master 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 fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Review: I read this book for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge.  I am a huge Jane Austen fan so I was happy to find this at my local library to read.  I had seen the movie several months ago and really liked it.  I love the idea of going to a place like Pembrook Park and experiencing the culture of Regency England but it if was anything like the Pembrook Park in the book I don’t think it would be possible for it to exist.  I thought Hale’s writing had different facets that I enjoyed – it was funny but also heartfelt when it came down to Jane’s struggles with not knowing what it was she truly wanted.  I think there is a bit of Jane Hayes in all of us who fall “in love” with fictional characters and find yourself comparing the real people in your life to those characters.  It was very easy to compare Jane to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Nobley to Mr. Darcy.  I really really really disliked Miss Charming’s character though.  She just seemed like a complete fool and had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.  I was really confused why she would even want to be there in the first place.  Overall this book was a fun read.  I liked reading it but I don’t see myself buying it or reading it again.

3/5 Stars