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Austenland: A Novel Paperback – May 27, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 32-year-old singleton Jane Hayes's mind, no man in the world can measure up to Fitzwilliam Darcy—specifically the Fitzwilliam played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Jane is forced to confront her Austen obsession when her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her an all-expenses-paid vacation to Pembrook Park, a British resort where guests live like the characters in Jane's beloved Austen novels. Jane sees the trip as an opportunity for one last indulgence of her obsession before she puts it "all behind her—Austen, men, fantasies, period," but the lines between reality and fiction become pleasantly blurred as Jane acclimates to the world of Spencer jackets and stringent etiquette rules, and finds herself torn between the Darcyesque Mr. Nobley and a forbidden tryst with Pembrook Park's gardener. Though the narrative is endlessly charming, Jane is convincing neither as a sarcastic single girl nor as a romantic idealist, and the supporting cast is underdeveloped. Nods to Austen are abundant in contemporary women's fiction, and an intriguing setup and abundant wit are not enough to make this one stand out. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Thirty-three-year-old Jane Hayes, who has a fairly serious addiction to the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, inherits a trip to Pembrook Park, Kent, England, the location of a resort where guests dress, talk, think, and act in ways that Jane Austen would approve. Refusing to lie about her age, even on vacation in a place right out of Austen's England, Jane finds herself quickly overcoming the obsession with Mr. Darcy that may very well have jeopardized her 13 "relationships" over the years. Left to walk in last to dinner, mildly obsessed with one of the hotel's gardeners, and annoyed by another guest's overeager attempts to bag a man, Jane is eager to return to Manhattan. Then she decides to give it all one more chance, since Great-Aunt Carolyn did see fit to pay for the entire vacation. Hale does a lovely job with the tale of a single woman who would appreciate a genuine shot at love. The book is well written, quite readable, and the myriad characters, especially those working at the resort, are quirkily funny. Given the immense popularity of Jane Austen's novels among teen girls, this book definitely has cross-over appeal.—Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781596912861
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596912861
  • ASIN: 1596912863
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (798 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times best selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and dozens of rejections, she published The Goose Girl, the first in her award-winning Books of Bayern series. She has published seventeen books for young readers including the Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and its two sequels, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, superhero YA novel Dangerous, and the first four Ever After High books. Her novels for the adult crowd include Austenland (now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell) and Midnight in Austenland. Shannon and her husband Dean Hale have collaborated on several projects such as Eisner-nominee Rapunzel's Revenge and early chapter book series The Princess in Black. They spend non-writing hours corralling their four young children near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

170 of 178 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on June 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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97 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca on January 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful By John P Bernat on June 23, 2007
Format: 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??
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jammy on August 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up on a whim, thinking it might be an interesting read. I read it in two days - not because it was so thrilling that I couldn't put it down...oh no, it was more of to get it over with!
The writing style, while not completely awful, was actually very juvenile and 'goofy'. I was under the impression that the main reader of this book would be someone of the age to appreciate Colin Firth in a wet shirt, which is not exactly the teenage aptitude for which this writing style suits. (I later discovered that the author does write teen fiction, which explains a lot).

The main character, Jane 'Erstwhile' Hayes- I could not sympathize or like her at all. She is immature and wishy-washy at the best of times. Why she should be ashamed of her love of classic literature and the telling of such in dvd form (her Pride & Prejudice dvd's that get randomly hidden around her apartment) is beyond me. Even if she watched it an ungodly amount of times and imagined herself as Lizzie Bennet, there is no reason to think that, just by seeing it on her shelf, her friends and family would know of her obsession.
While I commend her for not being like the 'average' woman of this day and age (I'm one of those rare people who still believes in the whole 'sex-is-for-marriage' thing), I find Jane to be so utterly hopeless when it comes to relationships that, should I perchance to meet her somewhere, I would like to recommend a good therapist before she even thinks of attempting to be in another relationship. She counts among her 'past boyfriends' a sixth grader with whom she shared pixy sticks and valentines, and a oily man whom she'd seen for three weeks after he complimented her (despite her bad haircut).
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