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Midnight in Austenland: A Novel

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel

3.9 67
by Shannon Hale

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When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to


When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hale sends another lovelorn American to Jane Austen fantasy camp in this gothic-tinged follow-up to Austenland. A year after her messy divorce, Charlotte Kinder buries herself in her job, her children, and her beloved Austen novels, but moving on feels impossible. When friends suggest a vacation, Charlotte’s travel agent has just the thing: a trip to Pembrook Park, a proper English estate in Kent where guests and staff immerse themselves in Regency customs and culture. At first the estate feels “more like a Terry Gilliam movie than a Masterpiece Theatre episode,” but once settled, Charlotte plays parlor games, learns country dances, and even lets herself be courted by her assigned suitor, the brooding, magnetic Mr. Mallery. Her vacation becomes more Northanger Abbey when the guests visit a Gothic ruin and uncover a centuries-old mystery. After Charlotte catches a fleeting glimpse of a dead body in a secret room, she’s not quite sure if it’s part of the game or there’s a real murderer lurking. Though a tacked-on romance and some flimsy plot twists strain credibility, Hale’s fans will be thrilled to revisit Pembrook Park and reunite with its regulars. Hale provides a welcome, witty glimpse of a side of Austen rarely explored in the many contemporary riffs on her work. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Charlotte Kinder's cozy life has collapsed around her. She's recently divorced, her lovely children have become terrible teens, and her friends keep fixing her up on awful blind dates. Her only solace is the novels of Jane Austen, and she needs a vacation. Enter Pembrook Park: a British country retreat where visitors can spend their holiday in the Regency era. Each guest is assigned a role and a love interest played by a very convincing actor. Charlotte is Mrs. Charlotte Cordial, widowed in a most dreadful manner, and her love interest is the smoldering and mysterious Mr. Mallery. The playacting goes awry when Charlotte discovers a dead body in a secret room, and the resulting whodunit brings the denizens of Pembrook Park together to solve the mystery. This isn't a sequel to Hale's Austenland so much as a companion piece; both are set in the same universe and feature recurring characters, but the main characters are different. VERDICT Hale's light romantic comedy will appeal to chick-lit fans as well as Austenites who have grown weary of the never-ending sequels to Pride and Prejudice and are looking for a fresh way to explore the author's enduring legacy.—Nanette Donohue, Champaign P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
In a sequel to her bestselling Austenland (2007, etc.), Hale sends another 21st-century American to play Regency heroine at Pembrook Park. Charlotte Kinder could certainly use a vacation at the English estate that promises its female visitors the complete Jane Austen experience, right down to the corsets and attentive gentlemen (actors) to provide a chaste 19th-century romance during their two-week stay. Husband James has taken up with another woman, leaving Charlotte's self-confidence and self-esteem shattered despite the millions she's made as the creator of a web-based landscaping business. Post-divorce, while the kids spend time with their father and his fiancée, Charlotte heads for Kent, where she finds a house full of male "eye candy" and other guests recovering from modern traumas. "Miss Charming" (the ladies all take Austenish sobriquets) has also been dumped by a cheating spouse; "Miss Gardenside" is a recognizable 20-year-old pop star whose case of "consumption" masks the symptoms of drug withdrawal. Charlotte ("Mrs. Cordial") finds her designated Romantic Interest, Mr. Mallery, pleasingly smoldering, and she grows very fond of Eddie, who is playing her brother while paying suit to Miss Gardenside. The agreeable pretend mystery set up for the guests turns disagreeably real when Charlotte stumbles on a body while playing Bloody Murder. The body vanishes, but resourceful Charlotte eventually finds it again and identifies the miscreant, even as flashbacks fill in the details of her failed marriage and her lifelong failure to stand up for herself. Of course, she finally tells off rotten James and finds true love with a handsome actor happy to be her real-life Romantic Interest. A smartly plotted mystery somewhat compensates for the fact that Charlotte's psychological problems are entirely predictable, the rest of the characters sketchily portrayed and the arch narration a huge comedown from the real Jane's sharp, sardonic tone. Will no doubt appeal to those fans who think that period clothes and happy romantic endings constitute an authentic re-creation of Austen's hard-edged novels.

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Bloomsbury USA
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Meet the Author

Shannon Hale is the New York Times bestselling author of six young adult novels, including the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, and two books for adults, Austenland and The Actor and the Housewife. She has also cowritten two graphic novels, Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack, with her husband, Dean Hale. They live with their four small children near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Shannon Hale is the Newbery Honor–winning and New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Academy series, The Books of Bayern, Book of a Thousand Days, Dangerous, and the graphic novels Rapunzel's Revengeand Calamity Jack, as well as the Ever After High and Princess in Black series, and the upcoming The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for Marvel. She also wrote three novels for adults, including Austenland, now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell. She and her husband, the author Dean Hale, have four children and live near Salt Lake City, Utah.


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Midnight in Austenland 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
hippiechick7897 More than 1 year ago
I liked the second attempt better than the first. I was not a big fan of 'Austenland' but for some reason as soon as I finished that one I felt compelled to read 'Midnight in Austenland'. This one just worked for me. Maybe it's because the heroine was more likable than the first book. Maybe it was because there was more interaction between the hero and heroine than the first book. Maybe it's because I love 'Northanger Abbey'. I don't know....but I enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! It has everything: romance, mystery, comedy, and drama. It was a quick, easy, read which I really enjoyed. I completely reccomend this book to anyone who just wants to relax and be taken by a story.
CleanTeenFiction More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! I read it every spare chance I had. It was so fun! I'm at a loss for words to describe how much I enjoyed relaxing and reading this book. Charlotte was in her late 30s, divorced, and had two children. Early on in the story she read Jane Austen and decided to take a trip to Austenland while her kids were with their dad for part of the summer. If you've read Austenland you'll remember Miss Charming. Well, she was back and as funny as ever with perfect comedic timing -- hilarious. There were a few other characters returning from Austenland. I enjoyed the continuation of their stories. I really liked Austenland, but I loved Midnight in Austenland even more. The mystery added to the fun. I felt so uncomfortable for Charlotte at times, but in the end I was attached to the character and wanted to see her happy with her life. I recommend this book to everyone! Content Ratings: sexual content: mild language: very mild violence: mild
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A many layered romance, mystery, and story about recovering from a marriage gone bad. All in all a fun and great read.
BurgandyIce More than 1 year ago
My Review (spoiler-free): This book was a complete delight to read. The writing is so smooth and fast-paced. The characters were believable. The troubles were real and varied. The romance was fun. The mystery was fun! I was never concerned for anyone’s life, necessarily. (Not sure if that’s important to note or not). There was a scene that I felt I OUGHT to be very concerned for someone’s life, and yet, nope. Largely because the writing was humorous even then. (Every "then".) Charlotte carried on conversations with her inner self that were hilarious even at the most frightful moments. To add to the enjoyment, her Inner Self was a different character than her Self-Self, the two disagreed and argued. I think that aspect is a unique treasure that I haven't run into in other books. How often (in reality) is my inner voice ultra-sarcastic and critical of me, you know? Well, you don’t know, but it is and it seemed as if Shannon Hale knew! Yikes! The main character, Charlotte Kinder, is older-ish and divorced (with kids) and dealing with the unfaithfulness of her husband, which labels this book as “adult”. But I think Young Adults would enjoy this book just as much even if there are moments that make them wonder if their mothers ever thought of them like that. (Yes!) Most of the book is centered around the situation and mystery at the Jane Austen resort setting, including the beautiful dresses and dances and card games and food… everything fun and memorable about Jane Austen’s world. There is tension between what is real and what is pretend with hired actors. As I read, I highlighted... in my e-reader (no, not in a hard copy – are you kidding?!) so, while I was reading, I quoted phrases… I hope you caught some? This book is delightfully quotable without giving away spoilers. :-D For example, a mini side theme was the house itself, how it felt alive and friendly or not as Charlotte reacted to other things going on. And always there were the Settees, which she enjoyed noticing, having never said "Settee" before. She commented on them frequently, "adjourning to the room with the abundant Settees", etc, etc. Hilarious. When I least expected it, those Settees would be there again, and I snorted every time. Speaking of laughing, I thoroughly enjoyed trying to be quiet. If you can, read at night – through the night, if possible - and try to keep quiet and not laugh out loud and you, too, might be in (quiet) hysterics frequently. (Yea! It could happen!!) This book is full of Jane Austen connections, especially with Northanger Abby, so no doubt I missed some depth I might have gotten otherwise (not having read that work of art.) Any thoughts, anyone? Have you read Northanger Abby? Midnight in Austenland is definitely complicated, multi-layered and light fun all at the same time. I recommend it for everyone. My Rating: 5 - Love it!!!
SharonRedfern More than 1 year ago
Charlotte Kinder’s marriage has gone kaput and she starts reading Jane Austen as a diversion. Her two children are spending their vacation with their father and his new wife so Charlotte decides to go on her own vacation. She ends up going to England and being part of a reenactment type of trip located at Pembrook Park, a stately home. Reborn as Charlotte Cordial, a widow, she embarks on her adventure. She is one of six guests and is matched with Mr. Mallery, a moody but hunky gentleman. As part of the entertainment, the three couples are part of a mystery involving a long ago event at a local abbey, and parts of the story are doled out over several nights. Unfortunately for Charlotte, it suddenly becomes all too real for her and she is left wondering what is really happening at Pembrook Park. Who can she rely on for help? I always have wanted to go on one of these Austen trips so the whole premise of this book intrigued me. Charlotte is an interesting character, not the typical dumpee. She has a successful business and seems to be a pretty intelligent woman who ignored the signs that her marriage was imploding. On her vacation she has the typical reactions one would being in a strange country, acting out another period of time, and finding oneself in the middle of something very unsettling. The mystery factor is ramped up in this book and the romance takes a back seat but still has a satisfying conclusion. Ms. Hale solves an obvious problem with a simple but effective plot twist so all can end well. I enjoyed the first book in the series and this one was just as good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a mystery and a romance with a healthy dose of humor. With language better than what you hear on TV and no uncomfortable intimate scenes this is the perfect book for all ages (even a teen!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charming novel chronicles the changes of a newly divorced woman while staying at an inn that immerses their guests in the world of Jane Austin. Add a mystery and you have an engaging read! Really enjoyed this book!
AmyO122 More than 1 year ago
5 bright shiny, sparkly stars for Midnight in Austenland!! (none of those wimpy stars that are hard to see) I loved this book!!! I probably ought to start this review out with a confession- I am a huge Shannon Hale fangirl so if you're looking for an unbiased review this is not the review for you. Because I am a huge fan of Shannon's books I went into Midnight in Austenland with really high expectations. And in true Shannon Hale fashion my expectations were left in the dust. I loved being back in the world of Austenland. It was so fun to see old friends and meet new characters. I hadn't realized that I wanted to know more about certain characters until I met them again in this book. I really enjoyed getting to know a few of the familiar faces a bit more. As for the new cast of characters, I was a little worried I wouldn't connect with Charlotte as well as I did with Jane in Austenland. I am single and obsessed with Mr. Darcy so it was really easy for me to understand Jane. Charlotte is a successful business woman, a mother of two and divorced. She and I don't have a lot in common. But that is the beauty of Shannon's writing- she creates characters that. even though there is very little common ground, you can understand and love. Midnight in Austenland is classic Shannon Hale- it has a strong heroine, is laugh out loud funny, poignant, thought provoking, adventurous and has just the right amount of swoon. In addition to all of those wonderful qualities Shannon has thrown a mystery into the mix. I have to admit that this crime show junkie had a huge grin on her face when one of the characters makes a comment about being on CSI Pembrook Park. Trying to discern between fantasy and reality is already difficult at Pembrook Park, adding a puzzle to be solved made this trip to Austenland even better than the first
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PaperbackBookClub More than 1 year ago
Midnight in Austenland is not exactly a sequel to Austenland, but does bring us back to that world. In many ways, it is a good follow-up, but ultimately falls a little flat when compared to the original. The plot is engrossing, and the characters enjoyable, but it reads in the end as a too-similar telling of a too-similar story with less careful writing. What it does well includes presenting a completely relatable heroine, who feels very real and whose story makes it easy for the reader to connect with her. Midnight in Austenland tells the story of recent divorcee Charlotte Kinder who finds herself in Austenland, a Regency-themed immersive vacation spot in attempt to recover herself after the loss of her marriage. Her ex-husband is appropriately despicable (unfaithful and money-grubbing), but while the story of their marriage and its unraveling is central to this book and unfolds along with the present story, the real problem Charlotte seems to be facing is figuring out how to again be herself, by herself. Married young and now alone in her late 30s, Charlotte realizes that even with her two children and her wildly successful landscape design business, she has not done many of the things she had wanted to do. She begins by reading Austen, and uses the vacation as an opportunity to get back in touch with herself. For readers of Austenland, her arrival there will bring back a lot of fond memories. A few familiar faces reappear, including the positively delightful Miss Eliza Charming (who also grows far more as a rounded person this time around). Unfortunately, a few too many familiar plotlines also begin to appear. There are again the mysterious motivations of other guests, the odd behavior of the cast and owners, the despicable Mr. Wattlesbrook, and two love interests, one who initially seems most appropriate but ultimately turns out to be a cad, and the one who wasn’t initially an interest at all, but turns out to be Mr. Right. The latter is where the problems start; for readers of the first book, the entire plot is easily determined by the second day at Pembroke Park. Now, I’ll freely admit, that might not be a problem for all readers, and so the book might be significantly more enjoyable for those readers. This isn’t the only problem. While generally, Hale’s writing style is engaging and casual enough to feel like the reader is getting a true glance into Charlotte’s mind. In places, however, it moves from simply casual to downright cringeworthy. There are several genuinely painful lines, and frankly they took me out of the story. Hale’s style can be a lot of fun, so I have to think this was either carelessness or a case of not enough editing. Still, those moments don’t happen frequently enough to make me not recommend this book; they are just something to be aware of. Overall, this book is still a great deal of fun. It is imperfect, and that is important to know, but it’s also enjoyable. I read the entire thing in a single sitdown, and that always counts for a lot. The characters are pretty good, the plot is pretty engrossing (with a nice added mystery this time around), but the weaknesses do detract from the book’s overall success. I’d recommend taking a look at Austenland first; if you find that you love the world, give Midnight in Austenland a try. I think you’ll find more to like about it than not.
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Kiss your hand and post this on three differnt books then look under your pillow
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Fan club res 1! Be there to share opinions and chat about her books!
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I really enjoyed the mystery twist in this novel. I liked this book better than the first one. I did however love the movie from the first book.