Austenland: January 2013 Novel of the Month

Austenland

Well, I’ve shared my nonfiction read of the month, now let’s talk fiction.

Austenland* by Shannon Hale is another book that I’ve had in my books wish list for a few years now. It has always been priced a bit past what I would like to pay for a novel of this variety, so I held back. Recently, it went on sale via Kindle, so I finally took the plunge.

Probably good timing too, as there has been a bit of talk lately around Pride and Prejudice‘s 200th year anniversary. And yes, I am a sucker for Jane Austen’s novels. I even love books and movies that are based on her works (eg, Clueless, The Jane Austen Book Club, even the movie based on her life, Becoming Jane, etc.)

Besides, I needed a bit of a break from reading Game of Thrones‘ Book 3 (A Storm of Swords).

Anyway, Austenland is basically modern chick lit with a Regency twist. It is a bit of a deviation from Shannon Hale’s usual YA fantasy books. I’ve been a fan of her work since I fell in love with Goose Girl. And again, with Princess Academy. I’ve also been reading a few of her other books too.

The basic plot: Jane is a thirty-something single woman living and working in New York City as a graphic designer. With a string of terrible relationships, she finally admits to herself that part of the reason she can’t seem to make her relationships work is the fact that she’s been obsessed with the fantasy man: Mr Darcy. In a twist of fate, she ended up in a Regency-inspired resort for rich women in England as a guest. It was her last hurrah before she finally decides to leave the fantasy behind. Or, that was the plan anyway.

The verdict: It’s a sweet read, albeit predictable. I mean, even naming the character Jane was a tad too obvious, I thought. And yes, we all know she would fall in love. The reader just wasn’t sure who she would end up with. Well, you kind of know, of course. But, the author tries to throw curve balls as you would expect. There were funny moments. Some cute dialogue between characters. Nothing too insightful or particularly toe-curling romantic. I didn’t fall in love with the characters too deeply. But, at least the resort seemed somewhat believable. It was an okay, fun read. The sort of thing that you can enjoy at leisure, if you’re happy to have a bit of an escapist novel at hand. Something I am always up for.

Admittedly, if this was my first Shannon Hale book, I probably wouldn’t have remembered her name – or became a fan. Definitely loved Goose Girl and Princess Academy more.

In fact, I probably enjoyed reading a similar book I read about the same time last year a bit more. The book is A Weekend with Mr Darcy* by Victoria Connelly.

At least, after this light reading, I can proceed with GoT once again. ;)

Rating: 3/5

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