Customer Reviews for

Austenland

Average Rating 4
( 236 )
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5 Star

(88)

4 Star

(82)

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(36)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(21)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

20 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

A Refreshing Regency Romance

Austenland is an intriguing concept that is carried of rather well. From a high level, it involves a thirty-something single woman named Jane off for 3 weeks of "Live Action Role Play" (LARP) in a Regency House populated with servants, gentlemen and other women searchi...
Austenland is an intriguing concept that is carried of rather well. From a high level, it involves a thirty-something single woman named Jane off for 3 weeks of "Live Action Role Play" (LARP) in a Regency House populated with servants, gentlemen and other women searching for Victorian style romance. I expected plenty of sappy moments and coming away with a sugar headache. Instead, I found a thoughtful and fun (albeit cheesy at times) romance that tries to get to the heart of romance while exploring unrealistic expectations and the joys and pains of obsessions.

Starting out the novel, I was worried that Jane would quickly become a stereotypical archetype...the 'unlucky in love' woman who obsesses over Pride & Prejudice (and other similar books), spurns men as vile and unromantic, and sets herself expectations that can never be achieved. By the end of the book, many of those traits were in fact proven out. However, Jane did progress through the novel and explored her own psychology to determine which of those characteristics were realistic and which should be abandoned.

Her path to discovery was humorous at times, frustrating at others, but in the end felt believable. I really found myself getting to understand and sympathize with Jane while at the same time wanting to shout at her that she was an idiot.

I absolutely loved the prefaces to many of the chapters in the book...many of the chapters began with a short description of each of Jane's "boyfriends" (of which I think she had 15). Most were a few paragraphs...one was just a sentence. Each was very insightful into her character and each was rather humorous...the kind of humor that is funny because you can see the reality behind the pathetic occurrence. As an example, one of these "boyfriend" descriptions tells about how she first saw the boy in class and they shared a glance and then, because he was too shy, she asked him out...to which he responded, "sure...and what was your name"....which promptly ended their "relationship".

As for the other characters, I felt that they were well portrayed, but I had some trouble (as did Jane) trying to sort out the behavior of the actors versus those of the person behind the character. I really felt Hale did a good job of keeping the true person at a distance while exposing glimpses of reality, but I would have liked to have seen more "behind-the-scenes" moments with them. We get one VERY brief scene where one of the characters is smoking behind a bush and talks about "getting back to work." I would like to have seen moments like that elaborated on a bit more.

The writing and the plot flowed along very nicely and it was a very fun read. Even though I am a heterosexual male, I did enjoy the book and can recommend it. However, I can't recommend it to everyone. For example, most of my friends (both male and female) would likely laugh at the suggestion and never make it beyond the first chapter. Others would certainly eat it up. I think that in order to enjoy this, the reader must first have an appreciation, if not a love, of Victorian literature and particularly Victorian romances. Having at least a perception of the obsession around Pride and Prejudice may also help.

So, two scores.
To those who don't like Victorian romances - 1 star
To those who enjoy Victorian lit, romances, or "girlie" books - 3.5 stars

posted by theokester on June 15, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

14 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

Read her other work

Shannon Hale's young adult fantasy is wonderful. Jane Austen is wonderful. So I looked forward to this novel, which was one of the biggest disappointments I've ever read. It's painfully anti-romantic, almost embarrassing. The heroine seems to need to apologize for li...
Shannon Hale's young adult fantasy is wonderful. Jane Austen is wonderful. So I looked forward to this novel, which was one of the biggest disappointments I've ever read. It's painfully anti-romantic, almost embarrassing. The heroine seems to need to apologize for liking Austen, goes to a kind of fake Regency vacation home, where she's forced into uncomfortable clothing, and must endure conversation with players whose titles are incorrect for the period, and who don't seem to know the manners of the time. She is awkward, making the reader feel awkward: there is no grace, and certainly no romance. The 'Darcy' character is stiff and morose without charm. The heroine goes on and on at excruciating length about her ambivalence. I made it three quarters of the way through before I had to give up, as nothing had happened except more dull dialog interspersed with inner maundering.

posted by 792982 on January 21, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2012

    Love this book!

    Currently re-reading. Love the humor, love the setting, love all of Shannon Hale's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    Love it!

    I loved it so much I have read it six times!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Cannot wait for the movie!

    Loved this book and cannot wait until the movie comes out! Mr Nobley really earns his Darcy here.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    I really enjoyed this book

    I loved this book and actually and getting ready to read it for the second time. Quite enjoyable, witty and charming characters. I even listened to the audiobook which was awesome with each character being so personalized. Highly recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2011

    highly recommended

    For those who really love Jane Austen and believe romance is as fashionable today as it was then in Jane´s time
    It is my second book by Shannon Hole, after princess academy, I can only say that I will by all the rest of her books as soon as I find the opportunity to do it.
    the ready group guide and the suggested point for discussions are really pertinent and atractive I certanly recommend this for book club discussion

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2010

    My Favorite Book

    I love this book. I read it every time I go on vacation. I have read many other books based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice but this one by far is the best! Try to find the Austenland on CD or MP3 too it really helps this story come to life!

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Wonderful Rainy Day Book

    For lack of a better word, it's a lovely story. For Jane Austen readers this book is a delight. The plot is predictable, but the writing and the wit is refreshing and new. A very quick read that had me smiling the whole way through.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    By God I Think She's Got It!

    A great book. Couldn't put it down. Recomend it for anyone who loves Austen or wants to escape to a Regency Era world. (I know I do)

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!

    This book is perfect for the regretfully single woman! The witty writing is refreshing and enthralling! i found i couldn't put it down! And Just like the rest of shannon's books i was not disappointed! Well Done

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

    An excellent start to a Jane Austen themed summer reading

    What I loved about this book was it was an easy read without losing my interest or being too simple. I read Austenland in only a few days, partly because it's not a strain to understand and partly because you don't want to put it down. It was a great start for my summer filled with books by Jane Austen herself.

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  • Posted July 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    If you love Jane Austin, you will love this book

    After reading some reviews that state, "this is not her best book", I can't wait to read her other writings. This is a whimsical book about romance and fantasy. If you love the writings of Jane Austin, you will enjoy this book for what it is, fun, exciting, romantic and one that keeps you guessing. Great Book, short read, would and have recommended to other Jane Austin fans and really anyone who loves a good chick flick!

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    For Women Seeking Mr. Darcy...

    This book is a complete masterpiece! After reading Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, I confess to falling head over heels in love with Mr. Darcy. He is, after all, the perfect man, isn't he?
    Shannon Hale wrote this book with charming wit and a romantic storyline that is the perfect combination of reality and romance for any woman who loves Mr. Darcy. It's a story of love and overcoming...well...an obsession with finding a flawless man. I remember laughing out loud more than once while reading this book, but also sighing in that high-pitched way as I read the romantic parts as well. This book is perfect for Jane Austen fans, but I would not reccommend it unless you are familiar with the story of Pride & Prejudice atleast a little.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Charming!

    Anyone with a taste for Jane Austen is sure to enjoy Shannon Hale's witty and realistic characters. Really, her writing style is just a modern version of Ms. Austen's. I highly recommend it as just a fun bit of reading to take your mind of your troubles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2009

    A classic doesn't always equal perfect storytelling.

    This is a great little book for all those who want to sit down to a little slice of humor and romance. I especially love the use of Jane Austen quotes twisted into odd places and the loving mockery of the classic BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. This isn't the best story in the world, but like Pride and Prejudice it might just be a classic you feel the need to reread again and again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    Absoultely ADORED this book. It's extremly witty and relatable. I recommend this book to everyone, especially Mr. Darcy lovers! Even if you haven't read Jane Austen's works I think you would still thoroughly enjoy this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2007

    A great read

    I just finished reading this book and I just loved it! I'm a huge Jane Austen fan and I think that she would be proud of this book. It couldn't have had a better ending, so romantic. It's one that I will definitely read again!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    Shannon Hale did a very good job with this book. My friends and I who are Austen fans loved it. I can especially relate to the Mr. Darcy obsession...It's the kind of book that deserves to be read under a blanky with a cup of hot cocoa on a rainy cold day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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