- Title: Austenland
- Author: Shannon Hale
- Series: Book 1 in the Austenland series
- Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction (or, god help us, Chick Lit)
- Publisher: Bloomsbury, May 2007
- Purchase: Amazon, $1.99 Kindle Daily Deal (regular $7.01)
- Tropes: Austen, TSTL
- Quick blurb: Single New Yorker takes on a Regency fantasy camp deep in the heart of England.
- Quick snark: A complete lack of subtlety – on a Looney Tunes anvil-dropping scale.
- Grade: D+
My daughter and I loved Hale’s Princess Academy, so I was really looking forward to seeing what a Newbery honoree could do with some grown-up Austen fluff:
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen—or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
Unfortunately, it was a weird combination of too much and not enough – this Regency fantasy camp was more like a middle school cafeteria.
I debated this grade for a while, but ultimately had to go with with a D+. While it wasn’t truly painful, it was really disappointing and I can’t think of anyone I’d recommend it to.
The + on the D+ is for the cute cover.