(March 2014 update - see my review of the film adaptation here)
After several months of avoiding my huge library fine and checking out books on my sister's card, I finally paid it off and went browsing among the tempting shelves. Unfortunately my current library was chosen by moi because of it's proximity to my doctor's office, not because it has an amazing selection. However by careful browsing I managed to pick up a few interesting gems.
I was scanning the "H" section when my eyes crossed two intriguing words. "Austenland" and "Shannon Hale." Now Shannon Hale is far from being my favorite author - I find her style weird and a bit jarring. But she's not horrible, and she tends to be fairly appropriete in her youth fiction, so I figured I couldn't go wrong in picking up one of her adult books. Particularily not when it so obviously had something to do with Jane Austen.
It turned out to be a nice bit of light reading. Nothing that will go on my list of perennial favorites, but an engaging read nonetheless. (Actually, to tell the truth I couldn't put it down and skivved off work reading it. Don't tell!)
The story is of a young lady named Jane who is obsessed with Colin Firth and the 1995
A&E P&P. She has been so enraptured by the perfections of Mr. Darcy, that she has begun to dispair of finding any real man who could ever meet her expectations. Things take an interesting twist when an elderly aunt - aware of Jane's problem - dies and in her will leaves her niece a fascinating legacy: a vacation to Austenland.
Austenland is a place designed for rich women who desire to live out the elegant life they've seen in the Austen movies. They wear corsets, have balls, and carrying on flirtations with the gentlemen actors hired to entertain them. Everything is carried on in perfect accordance with the period - except that there are bathrooms with proper toilets and the women wear make-up.
Jane must decide whether this is really what she has dreamed of...or whether real life might, after all, offer something more.
It's a very intriguing concept and one that I must admit I've played around with myself. Of course, I tended to think of something more like "Frontier House" as opposed to a resort, which I think would make much more sense...reality shows are more interesting than the lives of the sometimes "idle rich."
So it was an interesting, fun light read. If you're an Austen fan (and I know many of you are) you might find this enjoyable. Keep in mind that it is adult chick lit. I found it pretty tame compared to most secular works out there, but it's still not appropriete for 14-year-olds.