Captain Tuttle’s #CBR5 Review #43 – Austenland by Shannon Hale

Ok, so I’m a little embarrassed about reading this book. But in my defense, it was an airport purchase, and kept me entertained from Tampa to New York. The flight is less than three hours, and I was just about done when we landed. It’s pretty short, but it’s also a breezy read, which makes sense. This isn’t deep stuff, folks; but it is fairly cute-ish. Plus, I adore Keri Russell and Bret Mackenzie, so I’ll likely be seeing the movie when it comes to pay-per-view. Not in the theater, though.

Anyway, Jane Hayes is your typical New York neurotic artsy type underemployed at a magazine of some sort, and obsessed with Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice. Not just Mr. Darcy, but Colin Firth’s Darcy from the BBC miniseries (yes, of course I own a copy on DVD). So her relationships with men aren’t satisfying. She has an elderly aunt who finds out about this, dies, and leaves Jane a trip to an estate in England catering to Austen fanatics. The estate provides a total Austen immersion, apparently at different pricing levels for different sorts of experiences. Jane has the budget trip, of course.

The female visitors to the estate are the paying customers, and it looks like most of the people who interact with the visitors are actors. The question is: is everyone else there aside from Jane and the two other ladies an actor, or are there real people working there too? Jane meets a couple of different men, meets cute (of course), and hijinks ensue. There are also asides between chapters, describing Jane’s love life up to the point where she enters Austenland. I haven’t decided if I liked that part or not, I’m leaning toward thinking it was annoying. Also annoying was a lot of the language – a bit too colloquial and diary-like for my tastes.

But, overall, it’s a fun and quick read, brainless and entertaining. Perfect for an airplane. I’m guessing the movie will be much the same.

Advertisements

Jess’s #CRB5 Review #2: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland (Austenland, #1)After discovering her love of Pride and Prejudice (especially the epic BBC movie with Colin Firth), Jane’s great-aunt leaves her an all-expenses paid trip to Penbrook Park. Penbrook is an English country manor, all dolled up in every Austen and stocked with actors doing their best to fill the Regency fantasies of their guests.

For the next three weeks, Jane will live and breathe the world of corsets, strolls in the garden, and trying not to make a mess of her embroidery project – on top of navigating a charming gardener willing to break a few rules (how very George Wickham of him) and Mr. Nobley, one of the actors who is giving his very best Austen hero face.

The plot is pretty simplistic and if you know your Austen, you can easily figure out how things are going to go (even not knowing your Austen, you’ll latch on fast). Luckily, Shannon Hale makes it easy enough to root for Jane to grow up (and out) of her Darcy/Firth obsession – she’s a sharp woman who happens to be in love with what a fictional character represents. Who hasn’t been there? And I think this may be a case where the up-coming movie could actually elevate the plot and characters. There’s great potential for some smart sight-gags and the cast is rather promising.