Austenland by Shannon HaleReviewed by Jennifer
Language: A handful of common swear words (about 7)
Sexual Content: A few make out sessions with little detail. Jane states that an old boyfriend put his hand up her skirt and she pushed him away. A man tells a woman that he wants to make love to her. Another boyfriend started “hunting for her bra hooks.”
Hopelessly devoted to Mr. Darcy (actually Colin Firth of BBC Pride and Prejudice fame), 30-something New Yorker, Jane, just can’t find a man who measures up. With a lifetime of exes in her wake, each one remembered precisely, Jane receives an inheritance from her great aunt: an all expense paid trip to Pemberly Park, an estate in England where Jane Austen devotees can live the authentic Regency England life – corsets, men in tight breeches, formal balls, and even a guaranteed marriage proposal for the ladies.
Determined that this experience in pretending will be the one that finally helps her kick the Austen habit, Jane is hesitant to fall for her “scripted” romantic interest at Pembrook Park, the arrogant, standoffish Mr. Nobly, and discovers instead the handsome gardener, Theodore. Could it be that Theodore is the Mr. Darcy she’s been dreaming of all her life? He’s the only person who seems real in this make-believe land, but, oh my, there is something about that handsome Mr. Nobly!
A completely satisfying, light, funny read! Shannon Hale is the author of one of my absolute favorite YA books, The Goose Girl, but somehow Austenland flew under my radar. I read Austenland on the beach and I couldn’t have picked a more perfect book for my alone time in the sun. Jane is so easily likeable, a little insecure when she shouldn’t be, spunky, but genuinely sensitive and kind to others. It is great fun to watch the romances play out in the story and a perfect ending makes this my new favorite summer book! A movie is coming out sometime, no release date yet, but it’s in post-production. Read it before you watch it!
While this in not one of Hale’s YA novels, her clean writing makes it perfectly appropriate for anyone who secretly wants to be Elizabeth Bennett’s bosom friend or be wooed by Mr. Darcy.