Austenland: A Novel

Austenland: A Novel

by Shannon Hale
3.9 237

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Austenland 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 237 reviews.
theokester More than 1 year ago
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 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 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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a different style than im used to for this author ranging it seems for an older audience. The main character is infatuated with the Jane Austen novels namely Pride and Prejudious. When one of Jane's rich relatives passes away Jane is given a trip of a lifetime. This trip will take her to Austenland where guests an actors dress up into 1700s attire and express the culture of the area along the way. Character style is still much the same as other stories I have read from this author. If you want to read this book I would suggest some knowledge of Jane Austen books because there is mention of them through the book that I was clueless on since I have never personally read the novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very funny, a good light read for all those Jane Austen obsessed. The story line could have been a little more thought out and I wouldn't expect it to become an instant classic, but it was very enjoyable! I highly recommend it!
Amarillis More than 1 year ago
I love a good story with a happy ending, and this book definitely had one. The story did leave a lasting impression, though, because it reminded me just how suffocating life can feel when we're living in a world where we're unaccustomed to the rules and how it can leave us vunerable to manipulation. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
joanna98446 More than 1 year ago
Not literature for the ages but a fun quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was an interesting read, but really, the lead character just seemed a little immature. To be in her 30s and counting the guys you basically looked at twice as your boyfriend? Totally unrealistic and, in a word, sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is a little slow initially, but soon picks up. It is well-written and charming. Definitely recommended.
artmidget More than 1 year ago
I am a big Jane Austen fan, so I was excited to see this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. While there were some cheesy moments overall it was a fun read.
KER949799 More than 1 year ago
I like Jane Austen books, and always wondered what it would be like to live those times. It was a fun read. Hopefully the movie will be likable as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big Jane Austen fan, so when I saw this book I was excited to see what the storyline would be. While I found it started a bit slow, once I got into the book I found that I really got to like the main character and the journey she took. It is defiantly worth reading.
denmotherCT More than 1 year ago
An excellent plot idea poorly carried out.
DarcyB More than 1 year ago
This is a really fun read! Silly and light. Very enjoyable. I feel like I am hanging out with a girlfriend when I read this book. :)
teawulfe More than 1 year ago
I love Shannon Hale's writing normally. But this was so drab. I guess it simplified some classics and modernized them into something more understandable to the average person today, but I found it really unoriginal and hard to get through.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Originally posted at: ***** Shannon Hale is most well-known for her YA novels, but her first foray into adult novels does not disappoint. Jane is a hopeless addict of Pride and Prejudice, most notably the BBC's rendition with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Her great-aunt discovers Jane's obsession and, with a wisdom born from long years of not recognizing love herself, bequeaths a three week vacation to Austenland, a role-playing resort where people - most notably women - immerse themselves into Jane Austen's England and an extended stay at Pembrook Park. Ms. Hale has a refreshing voice - this is a light, entertaining read perfect for any time the reader wants to get away for a while. The characters, even minor ones, are richly drawn and, even though I'm - ahem - a little older than Jane, I could still empathize with her luck with her "boyfriends" and relationship issues. There were some laugh-out-loud moments such as Ms. Hale's description of Great-Aunt Caroline's lawyer, who reminded Jane of a frog: He was saying something in lawyer-ese, but Jane was distracted. She was trying to figure out what besides the measured blinking made him seem so amphibious. His taut, shiny complexion, she decided. And his eyes being so wide apart. And his salad green tone. (Okay, he wasn't actually green, but the rest was true). I kept interrupting my husband's reading to share parts with him - to the extent he finally put down his own book and just listened to me read and giggle. The romance - who will she wind up with - the gardener, the gentleman, anyone? Without giving anything away (this is a romance after all), I can let you know you won't be disappointed. Austenland drops a modern woman into the world of the Regency house party and the fun begins. If you love Jane Austen's books, the movies, or just a fun romance, Austenland is one book you shouldn't miss.
VaBookworm More than 1 year ago
Many women could relate to Shannon Hale's heroine in Austenland. In her thirties, living in New York, and still single after a slew of bad relationships, Jane has decided to forsake men and live out her life with Mr. Darcy. As a dedicated Austen fan, she spends her evenings watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle while lamenting the death of romance, top hats, cravats, and all other manner of Regency wonders. But what if those things didn't have to be a thing of the past? What if Austen fans could become a part of the stories they love so much, if only for a little while? Austenland provides a hilarious and insightful look into such a possibility. While having lunch, Jane Hayes' great aunt scrutinizes Jane's affection of Austen's leading man. Her great aunt informs her that she must let go of her fantasies about fictional characters and stop destroying her real relationships. Following this conversation, Jane receives a "trip" from her great aunt in which she is to fly to England and partake in a sort of theme park geared towards Jane Austen fans. As soon as she arrives, Jane is forced to give over all of her modern amenities. For the next month, she will eat, sleep, and breathe the 19th century. The house where Jane is staying is full of people, including various actors and another woman who is also living out her Austen fantasies. Jane considers the whole thing to be incredibly ridiculous, and initially rebels against the whole concept. However, after some time at the park, she decides to go ahead and have some fun. To Jane, this is her last big Austen fantasy before she returns home and forsakes men and love for good. During her time at Austenland, Jane experiences all sorts of unusual and hilarious events that influence her perspectives on life and love. I loved this book! If you are a lover of Jane Austen, this book is a fun take on what it is to be an Austen fan! Keep in mind, this is not the type of book that takes you back in time to Regency England, and it's not written as such either. It's 100% modern, and aside from when the characters are role playing, all behavior and language is that of the 21st century. If you're looking for a literary classic, this is not it! However, if you are the sort of person who daydreams about being one of Austen's characters, I definitely feel that you would enjoy this book. One of my favorite qualities of this book was the writing. It was a light, easy read, and I love that you occasionally witness Jane's conflicted thoughts. Her thought processes are hilarious (perhaps because they are slightly reminiscent of my own) and lend a bit of realism to the book. Another awesome feature is that each chapter is kicked off with a hilariously tragic story from Jane's previous relationships, allowing the reader to gain some understanding of why her love life has gone so awry. This book really stands out among the numerous books I own that are based on the works of Jane Austen. It is the only book I've ever read that utilizes the modern fan as a character, giving voice to a fantasy that many Austen fans have had. It's a lot like BBC's Lost In Austen, but in a slightly more believable context. Have you ever fantasized about being Lizzy Bennet? Have you determined that your chances of a happy relationship are forever ruined because no man is Mr. Darcy? Have you ever dreamed about what it would be like to attend a ball and mingle with the haute ton? If you answered yes to any of these, this book is for you!
Angieville More than 1 year ago
This bittersweet, funny slim little novel is first and foremost a love letter to Jane Austen, despite its well-deserved (and hilarious) dedication to Colin Firth. For those of us who, like the novel's heroine Jane Hayes, have happily reread all of Austen's novels over the years (except, as Hale points out, NORTHANGER ABBEY, which only got that one read), this story is a pleasant romp in Austenland. I was pleased with the way Jane questioned what in the world she was doing at what amounts to a Regency period fun park, with the way she alternately resists giving in to the fantasy and longs to dive in with reckless abandon. And I enjoyed the romantic comedy finish line ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Shannon Hale. Her books are so well written, original in style, great characters and story. This one was a dissapointment. I cared nothing about the characters and felt none of the magic I had while reading her other books.
Grnmtnwrtr More than 1 year ago
I must admit I found the movie before the book, but once I saw the movie, I had to read the book and I wasn't disappointed. If you like a lighthearted romance with a large dollop of humor thrown in for good measure, this book is for you. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book, gives a little more depth to the characters that there wasn't time for in the movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The actual story was good but i felt that it wasnt written well. It seemed boring and dull in some parts. The movie in my opinion is better. Overall it was a good book.
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HeidiAnnM More than 1 year ago
I read this in less than a day. Light-hearted, clean, and sweet, it made for a nice, little diversion on a cold, wet day. I got a redbox of the movie soon after. It has a few tweaks from the book, but it was close enough. Cute story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Although I must admit, I watched the movie first... The author has a way of pulling you in and rooting for the heroine. She made me laugh so hard I was afraid to read the book in public! Great read!