Friday, June 29, 2007

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes, who feels the need to hide her addiction to Jane Austen and its many film/TV adaptations (including the Colin Firth one), learns that an elderly aunt has left her a gift in her will - an all-expenses paid trip to Pembrook Park. This English "resort" is a place for women who are obsessed with Jane Austen to immerse themselves in the Regency period and in the society depicted in Austen's novels. To Jane, it's a perfect opportunity to get this obsession out of her system once and for all so she can move on with her life.

This book didn't quite do it for me. I love the concept, of course, but the execution felt so contrived. Hale's writing is a curious overlap of modern English (which she does quite well) and her attempt to write like Jane Austen (which she doesn't do so well, especially when it comes to dialogue). The result feels alternately over- and under-written. And the story - well, it is mostly just ridiculous, with its rather heavy-handed attempt to recreate the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy within the artificial setting of Pembrook Park.

Ahh well - many books written by Austenites are not as satisfying as the original source material, so I'm not all that disappointed.


Anonymous said...

I agree completely; this book was very poorly written and plotted. The dialogue between Jane and Mr. Nobley was particularly egregious. The ending was terrible, too!

Felicity said...

I very much enjoyed this book. I'm not quite sure of what you mean by any of the review. Shannon Hale is a wonderful person, and she writes wonderful books.

Vicki said...

I know Shannon Hale has a big following, so I'm not surprised to know that people disagree with my thoughts on this title. That's one thing I love about books, the way they can provoke such different reactions in different readers. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Felicity :-)

Felicity said...

I do admit that this book could have been longer, but other than that, I loved it. I am part of her "big following" as you said, so I am pretty biased. It's nice to see other's opinions.

AL wasn't Shannon's best work, but her new book coming out on the 18th is amazing. I got an ARC of it and I hope that you read it Vicki.