Customer Reviews


655 Reviews
5 star:
 (250)
4 star:
 (217)
3 star:
 (94)
2 star:
 (49)
1 star:
 (45)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


160 of 168 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to your fantasy
Shh, now. We really don't want to let this one get out, but there's a subculture afoot in the world. And I, alas, am hopelessly mired in its tentacles. Most of us are women, but there are a few men in our ranks, and we have a secret in common, tucked away on our bookshelves and video collections.

We are all hopelessly in love with Mr Darcy. Or rather, the most...
Published on June 24, 2007 by Rebecca Huston

versus
87 of 104 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fatally Flawed
Austenland could almost work. This very readable offering from a hitherto trusted author explores vital issues that need resolution in more lives than the fictional Jane's. I anticipated real resolution. Instead, we got to watch Jane set herself up for yet another unreal relationship, only this time, with a man who's given evidence of profound capacity for real...
Published on January 2, 2008 by Rebecca


‹ Previous | 1 266 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

160 of 168 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to your fantasy, June 24, 2007
By 
Rebecca Huston "telynor" (On the Banks of the Hudson) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
Shh, now. We really don't want to let this one get out, but there's a subculture afoot in the world. And I, alas, am hopelessly mired in its tentacles. Most of us are women, but there are a few men in our ranks, and we have a secret in common, tucked away on our bookshelves and video collections.

We are all hopelessly in love with Mr Darcy. Or rather, the most perfect manifestation of him in the form of Colin Firth.

This slim novel opens with Jane Hayes having a conversation with her elderly aunt, a very wealthy woman at the tag end of her life. Jane is more than a little nervous about this conversation, having been pushed into it by her bullying mother who's hoping for a piece of the old woman's estate. Jane is both fascinated and humiliated by the conversation, but a few months later gets a phone call from a lawyer who informs her that she's been left something by her aunt.

You're not rich, is the first thing that he says. But he does have a bit of a surprise for Jane -- an all-expenses paid holiday at a very private, very discreet resort in England for three weeks. Pembrook Park promises to fulfull the visitor's dreams of entering the world of genteel, simmering romance that the works of Jane Austen. After some qualms, and facing the fact that the trip is indeed, nonrefundable, Jane embarks on her trip. Perhaps now she can finally dispell her unrealistic fantasies of Mr Darcy and get on with her life; the solution is very simple, just immerse herself into the world of Austen until she is heartily sick of it, and disenchanted, and then she'll be free.

It's not that easy, and Jane's already nervous when she arrives at the inn where she's to shed her modern persona and turn into Miss Jane Erstwhile. At first, it's rather amusing, dressing in the clothing of the period, and learning to dance with a very tall, good-looking, but alas, only a servant by the name of Martin. Under the rather draconian eye of Mrs. Wattlesbrook , Jane finds out that a few modern conveniences have been allowed in -- such as modern plumbing and cosmetics -- but alas, no cell-phone, so by the time she arrives at the actual Pembrook Park, there's a distinct aura of authenticity to her.

And then there are the men -- three aristocratic men by the names of Colonel Andrews, Captain East and Mr. Nobley. Jane finds herself decidedly at the bottom of the leisured ladder, but still -- there's something about that Mr. Nobley that keeps them encountering each other, even though they throughly dislike each other. And despite knowing that it's all a game, Jane finds herself with two possible suitors -- and one of them is that gardener, Martin.

But there's a limit to this pretty bubble, and as the clock winds down, whatever is Jane to do when her time is up and she has to return to the dull reality of the 21st century?

I'll say it right off. It's a cute novel, and at times, just a bit too cute. But it worked for me, as I found myself chuckling over Jane's mishaps of trying to fit into a culture, but she can't quite keep her modern sensibilities at bay. Along the way there's some good pun, inside jokes for Jane Austen addicts, and a vivid writing style. One of the main reasons why I picked this one up is that it had a lot of appeal to me because I've been involved in historical re-enaction groups, and this one was no different. Hale's word-pictures of people trying to fit into a much more mannered time does get funny, as well as the synopsises of Jane's former boyfriends that introduce each chapter.

At the core of the novel lay the truth of any person -- that with some confidence and the knowledge that you know what you want, it's a good bet you'll get what you want out of life. The humor is gentle in this one, and while it is aimed at a specific market, it should have a wide appeal to most adult readers.

Hale is more familiar to readers of young adult fiction, but this one works. Her writing style is fluid and while the conversations get a bit stilted in places, and of course there's plenty of anachronisms in this, it still satisfies. My biggest complaint is that it could have easily been a longer novel, and I wish that Hale had taken the story a bit more in depth -- the novel is only about two hundred pages -- so it comes in overall at a tidy three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get a Life?, June 23, 2007
By 
John P Bernat (Kingsport, TN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
This is an absolutely wonderful book.

Our protagonist Jane is a contemporary young New York City "spinster." While she has a great career, she longs for the Regency era of olde England. She loves the BBC series with Colin Firth (and that woman who played Elizabeth, too).

Then something happens which thrusts Jane into a fictional resort in England, where visitors have to behave exactly like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. For three weeks, she has to become Elizabeth, pretty much.

The result is great fun and great learning, too. Just like with Jane Austen, it's a funny and insightful trip for all of us. The wit and pacing are quick, and the language carefully crafted for atmosphere.

I enjoyed it, but, regrettably, it made me wish that Austenland really existed. Last year my wife and I enjoyed visiting the hotel on the Vanderbilt estate outside of Asheville, NC, and can understand the escapist appeal offered by experiences of this kind...any private venture capital available??
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


87 of 104 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fatally Flawed, January 2, 2008
By 
Rebecca (Magrath, AB, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
Austenland could almost work. This very readable offering from a hitherto trusted author explores vital issues that need resolution in more lives than the fictional Jane's. I anticipated real resolution. Instead, we got to watch Jane set herself up for yet another unreal relationship, only this time, with a man who's given evidence of profound capacity for real commitment. It is almost tragedy.

I'll try to explain without giving too much away. Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy gets the blame for Jane's lengthy history of failed relationships, but the little vignettes about them reveal the real problem -- Jane's overeagerness to fall in love and to idealize her beloved rather than come to really know him and relate to him as a living, breathing, fallible but lovable individual. Prime example is the boyfriend of 5 months that Jane "experiences" without "trading psychological profiles", only to drop him cold when she hears him snort while laughing. That's not a relationship, but a failed fantasy. And yes, she collects creeps, but how could she avoid doing so when she persistently throws herself into a romance without first solidifying a friendship? She doesn't give herself time to discern whether he's a creep or not, or to discover the mixture of quirks and strengths that form the basis for a real, loving relationship.

Austenland is supposed to be therapy for Jane's penchant for fantasy. And it almost is, with a few twists and turns through layers of self-deception. At last, the moment of truth comes, Jane discovers that she's been deceived yet again and walks away. (Good for her)! And reality -- or the potential of a genuine, committed relationship, follows her onto the plane.

She is astounded. She is disbelieving. She says "you don't know me." He says he thinks he does and he wants a chance at forever. He is seatbelted next to her for a transatlantic flight. A perfect opportunity for the best and lengthiest conversation of her life -- a conversation that could lay the foundation for forever. They don't have it. Instead, she pulls him close and kisses him... for the entire flight, only to continue romancing in her apartment once the plane touches down.

Reality has gone on a holiday. We're back in fantasyland, and dreading what's going to happen to this already wounded hero when Jane finally wakes up and discovers that he snorts, or does something else equally irritating.

A different ending could have made this a worthwhile read, although it might not overcome the improbabilities of finding a good man in a high-class-almost-brothel like Austenland.

I expected better of Hale.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, clever send-up of Austen mania..., June 30, 2007
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
Jane Hayes is just your average, thirty-something, single New Yorker except for one little thing...her obsession with Pride and Prejudice, particularly with Mr. Darcy (as portrayed by Colin Firth, of course!), is ruining her life. No living, breathing, real man can compare to Darcy, the epitome of Regency-era male perfection. And so a succession of relationships crashes and burns, and Jane secretly watches her P&P DVDs, and then hides them like contraband from others when they visit her apartment, just in case they should see them and guess at her grand obsession (and correspondingly pathetic lack of a love life).

Then Jane's Aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her an unexpected and intriguing bequest in her will -- a three week stay at a role-playing resort in England called Austenland, a complete immersion into Austen's world for obsessed fanatics such as Jane. Seizing the opportunity to lay her Darcy fantasies to rest forever so she can live for something real, Jane accepts the trip and and heads to Austenland to live as Miss Jane Erstwhile, circa 1816, for three weeks. Jane's resolve to put her Darcy-esque fantasies behind her forever is sorely tested when confronted with the reality of the handsome, cravat-wearing gentlemen who populate Austenland and pay court to female guests. In the ultimate Austen-lover's fantasy world, can Jane find something real?

I so enjoyed this book. Hale's novel is a witty, clever send-up of the rabid Austen / Darcy mania that just about every woman I know can relate to in some degree. I would have liked to have seen the novel written in first-person from Jane's point-of-view -- the concept just screams "chick lit" and a change from third- to first-person would have enabled Hale to give greater insight and depth to Jane's character and smoothed out the narrative a bit. The supporting cast of characters that people Austenland is fabulous, though slightly underdeveloped. At a mere 194 pages, Austenland is an extremely short, fast read that begs to be about 100 pages longer (at least). I loved the world Hale created, and I loved Jane (I can SO relate to her Darcy mania!) and a certain someone that she meets at Austenland -- I won't spoil the surprise for those of you reading the review by naming names, even though when you read the novel Jane's real-life "Darcy" is telegraphed VERY early on. However, this lack of suspense doesn't detract from the sheer enjoyability of the read. I just wish there was more of it. Primarily known as a young adult fantasy author (The Goose Girl, Enna Burning) Hale is a promising voice in funny, clever, chick-lit style novels and I look forward to reading more from her. Austenland is a perfect summer read -- what it may lack in substance it more than compensates for in wit and invention.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Mr. Darcy. Not for fans of Jane Austen., October 1, 2011
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Paperback)
*** Warning: This review contains spoilers! ***

This book is not for Jane Austen fans. Jane Austen was a master of dialogue, of showing rather than telling the reader what was going on. The relationships of her characters, the events they experienced, were engaging, meaningful, and sometimes surprising. In this book, however, the writing was uneven and poorly worded (I sometimes had to re-read sentences just to figure out what they were trying to say!), the plot development loose and predictable, and the dialogue actually cringe-worthy. If anything, Austenland is written for young, hip fans of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Austenland's main character is named Jane. Really. It's a bit much, right? And she is nothing like the main characters in Jane Austen's novels, though she flatters herself by comparing herself to them. Elizabeth Bennett was witty and clever, Emma Woodhouse was charming and poised, Fanny Price was self-aware and principled - and none of them needed a man. Even though these characters were surrounded by women who wanted nothing more than to find a suitable husband, they themselves were strong and independent, and they found love and marriage despite the fact that they didn't go looking for it. Jane Hayes, on the other hand, was co-dependent and desperate to find a man. She was the complete opposite of a Jane Austen heroine. Instead of sympathizing with her, I started to side with her ex-boyfriends. Who would want to marry her!? When two guys fell for her at Pembrook Park, I honestly couldn't figure out why. What was so great about her?

Jane Austen's novels gave me a beautiful and charming impression of Regency England, but the "Austenland" described in this book didn't sound remotely interesting to me. Do such places really exist? If so, I hope they plan their retreats better than Mrs. Wattlesbrook did. With a one-to-one ratio of men to women, only three clients in one location at a time, and a lecherous drunk hanging around, the place sounded pathetic, boring, and even a bit creepy.

The book almost redeemed itself with a solid ending when Jane walked away from Mr. Nobley and Martin with her head held high. THAT was a perfect ending, in which Jane learns that she is a smart, confident woman whose self-worth is NOT dependent on having a man. Unfortunately, it all got thrown out the window when the book continued on to its actual ending. Jane DOES need a man after all, and even though she hadn't really felt attracted to this man before, she would throw herself at him just as she had thrown herself at Martin less than three weeks previously. And based on the Jane I met in this book, my money is on the relationship crashing and burning within a month of the plane's landing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed, August 16, 2007
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was so excited to read this most recent publication of Mrs. Hale's as I have so much enjoyed her other books. I was sadly disappointed. The richness and depth of her other stories was absolutely missing . It felt like I was reading a romance novel written by a teenager trying to sound like a grown up. She did her timeperiod research and referred to Jane Austen's books accurately. But, I felt her storyline was weak and very transparent. In many places it felt as though she was trying too hard to make the book sexy or adult. Whatever the reason, poor word choice or perhaps because I am not used to Mrs. Hale writing trashy love novels, it seemed forced and weak. Parts of it were confusing and difficult to follow. Overall, I was disappointed and hope that with her next book she will return to the style and type of literature she writes so beautifully.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun!, June 15, 2007
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
* If you love Jane Austen novels, this book is for you.
* If you love the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and think Colin Firth is the BEST EVER Darcy, this book is for you.
* If you enjoy a lighthearted romance that you would not be embarrassed to share with your mother or your daughters, this book is for you.
* If you are currently sewing period dresses for a daughter who has become involved in English Country Dancing and making note of how most of the fullness in Regency style empire waisted skirts is at the back at of the dress to allow for a smooth profile from the front, this book is for you.

Jane Hayes feels like she is a loser at love. She has the DVD of the BBC miniseries 'Pride and Prejudice' which she pulls out when she needs a shot of Mr. Darcy. She longs for the romantic connection of an Elizabeth Bennet-and-Fitzwilliam Darcy sort in her own life.

She is bequeathed a trip to a "Jane Austen World" in England, by a great-aunt. Pembrook Park lets the "campers" live and breathe 18th century England, complete with elegant gowns, etiquette and diversions. Jane decides this is her opportunity to purge herself of her Darcy neediness by immersing herself in the fantasy. She IS a 21st century person at heart though, so as she becomes accustomed to corsets and dresses that are not conducive to exercise, there is a part of her that holds back. In her heart she knows the "gentlemen" are actors but that does not keep her from wishing for a true romance.

I enjoyed Jane's ability to match the events at Pembrook Park to the plots and characters from Jane Austen's novels. The book's style does not swerve to the biting humor of Bridget Jones but it is an entertaining and fun summer read. No one can "do" Jane Austen. 'Austenland' is Shannon Hale's curtsy to the master.

I listened to audio version of the book because of my schedule. I enjoyed it but I am also looking forward to going back and actually reading it, which is something I rarely do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disapointed fan, November 2, 2008
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Paperback)
I just love her other books, Book of a Thousand Days, The princess academy, The Goose Girl and Enna burning. My friends warned me it wasn't the same and they didn't like it. When I read it I figured out why. It lacks all of the depth and imagination of her children's books. It is basically one makeout session after another, NOT my type of book at all. It was very disapointing and I really couldn't believe the unreal ending either. In the fairy tale type books the fairy tale type endings work and she does it masterfully and usually with a twist. This ending was just bizarre and it leaves you wondering if the main character will ever ever grow up.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Juvenile and disappointing, March 5, 2009
By 
booksandshoes (Denver, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Paperback)
I am a fan of Austen's work and confess to being a rabid Anglophile. However I was disappointed with the novel. The writing was uneven and I couldn't figure out what Jane, the central character, really wanted. Neither could she it seemed. Ms. Hale didn't seem to know what sort of novel she wanted to write either, perhaps this is a hazard of having written previous books geared toward teenaged girls, because the book did not read as though it were full of adult characters. Jane is supposed to be a 31 year old woman, but her behavior and thoughts suggest something more juvenile, maybe that of an 18 year old. Mr. Nobley's transition process felt unconvincing and the final fourth of the book felt hurried and gave in to so many of the cliched phrases from some of the really bad romance novels out there (Yes, I've read my share, more for a laugh than anything else.) And yes we all love that Jane Austen's characters make "triumphant matches" in the end and obviously Ms. Hale could not have ended her book any other way, given her patterning after Austen, but are we still really trying to promote the idea that for women the only "happy ending" involves a man? How about Jane just adopting a more realistic view of men and dating and actually growing up?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Austenland, May 30, 2007
This review is from: Austenland: A Novel (Hardcover)
Shannon Hale has found success with her novels for teens, which often retell folktales and fairy tales. She has a talent for giving would-be princesses interesting backstories and well-earned triumphs.

Her first novel for adults which is quite unlike her previous works - and every bit as enjoyable. Austenland is the story of Jane, a twenty-nine-year-old New Yorker whose day job is successful but rather unsatisfying. Jane is secretly obsessed with Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice and has watched the BBC miniseries countless times.

Jane is snatched out of her humdrum life when a family tragedy leads her to visit a very special resort in England. There, everyone and everything is straight out of the Regency period. She must dress, speak, and act accordingly. The three-week trip could be the time of her life -- or her wake-up call to actually get a life.

Jane Austen fans will lap up Austenland like a happy kitten with a saucer of cream. Both the wit and pacing are quick, with no words or time wasted. This romantic comedy is sure to make readers laugh one page and smirk the next. Not only is it a fast read, but it's also a fairly clean read, allowing her teen fans to share that saucer and enjoy Jane's sauciness.

The audio edition is literally suits the story's tone. The characters sound as they should, with Jane's words and the narration delivered in an American accent while the English characters have their lovely lilts.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 266 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Austenland: A Novel (Austenland 1)
Used & New from: $9.71
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.