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Austenland by Shannon Hale | Book Review

Austenland - Shannon Hale

This might be one of those rare instances where I liked the movie over the book, even though I enjoyed the book, too. The issue with this is I'm not 100% sure of my objectivity. Then again, can a review actually ever be objective when the feelings of the reader surely must influence it? I think reviewer Emily May once asked this question, too. (It may have been on her Gone Girl review). My answer to that question is no, a reviewer can never be 100% objective. And you know what? I'm not going to even attempt it in this book review. I may never attempt it again. Maybe it's better to just state your feelings. After all, Reader-Response theory is perfectly valid... and maybe my favorite school of critique.


Now that I've gotten thoroughly off-topic...


I didn't enter this book blind, which is something I prefer to do when reading. I had already seen the absolutely adorable film version of Austenland which stars my doppleganger Keri Russel and who I will always have a bias for her because don't we always like people who look like us? (Or is this just me?) In the film version, Jane is this adorable, obsessed Darcy-lover and when she arrives to Pembrook Park she is absolutely enchanted. But the book differed a bit in her attitude...


Jane Hayes is in her thirties, single and has a slew of failed relationships that she could put on her resume, but probably won't because why relive the embarrassment? She has a secret love for Mr. Darcy, particularly the Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice and always compares her boyfriends to Darcy, to the point where she will break up with them if they so much as snort... because Mr. Darcy would just never snort.


When a wealthy relative passes away, she leaves behind a trip for Jane: to go to Pembrook Park for three weeks where she will experience Regency life and perhaps have a fake unexpected romance with one of the actors playing the gentleman.

Now see... in the movie, Jane pays for this trip herself and is all excited to go. She is not embarrassed about her obsessed. She doesn't hide her DVDs - although she does keep people out of her room and I don't blame her because LOL @ the MRS. DARCY on the walls, like what? - she is sweet and shy and very much looking for romance in all the wrong places. She goes to Pembrook Park in the hopes that she will overcome her obsession and absolutely loves everything about it from the get-go.


Book Jane is a bit less likeable. She hides her DVDs in her plants, like that's a smart place to hide them, and she is judgmental and critical, often thinking herself the prettiest and smartest of the ladies at Pembrook Park. She does go to the estate in the hopes of overcoming her obsession, but she is less than impressed and even disgusted at certain things. I found reading her to be a very different experience to watching her, and I much preferred the latter.


Looking at my rating, I guess this would probably be a three-star read and one day I may come back and lower that score. But as it stands, I am definitely probably being influenced by the movie and that's why I gave it four stars. I would recommend this book for someone who wants a clean, light beach read that guarantees them a happy ending. The romance in this is sweet and the book is a bit like candy in that way. Very enjoyable, very soft -- I'm thinking a cotton candy comparison is the most appropriate. So, pick it up if that's what you're interested in.(less)