by Shannon Hale
Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man—perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? (description from Amazon.com)
So, this is a book that's been on my "To Be Read" list FOREVER...no really, it came out in 2008, so what, like five years or so? Then, with the movie coming out in limited release this fall, I decided I *really* wanted to finally get to it. I checked out my library's audio book for some fun listening on the way to and from work.
And yes, let me tell you, this is a fun book to listen to in the car. It's got that hint of self-deprecating humor, the fun and ridiculous premise of attending a historically-themed Austen experience park, and a whole lot of potential romance. Now, the only minor problem I had in listening to the book at this point was that since the movie'd come out, I could only picture Keri Russell playing Jane... which wasn't terrible (Without having seen the movie, I can't totally accurately say this, but...) since I think they did a good job in casting her for the role... but, it makes trying to get to know the character on her own that tiny bit more difficult.
However, even with Keri Russell in my head, I loved Jane. She was real. She really felt like a woman who'd gotten wrapped up in her own head. Building the career and life in New York City that she thought she should have...as opposed to the one she might have wanted in her heart. A girl wound so tight in society's expectations that she couldn't find love the way that she needed... a girl who secretly coveted a fictional character's morals and charms. A girl both desperate to love and hate a trip to a Regency themed vacation destination.
Who could blame her? The chance to play dress up in gorgeous dresses. The chance to attend a ball and take tea and play "lady of the manor?" The chance to chat and dance and flirt with gorgeous men...oh yes, who were paid to find her intriguing and beguiling... hmmm. I like Jane, loved the concept of the park, but would probably have found the reality to be a little... less enticing. Though, unlike Jane, I would never have tried to pin my entire future happiness upon the perhaps emotionally therapeutic results of my time there. (I most likely would have found myself totally wrapped up in the experience and devastated upon having to leave behind a most fabulous and perfect man... *sigh*)
|Still from the movie|
Still, what I really loved the best about this book - aside from the sigh-inducing romantic ending that had me grinning like a teenager in the car while people looked at me like I was crazy, LOL - was the fact that prior to that ending, Jane took a stand FOR HERSELF. She decided that she was unsatisfied with her own life and made the determination to change it. She was ready to let love come to her, whenever it may, and to not try to fashion her life around it. She was going re-envision her career so that she could do what she loved and she was going to unabashedly embrace herself, faults and all. What a surprise that once she accepted herself, she found true love!
A most enjoyable tale that left me drooling to see the movie. Sadly, it wasn't released in any theaters really close to me so I missed seeing it on the big screen. Guess I have to wait until Valentine's Day for the DVD release!
Full disclosure: Audio book borrowed from my Library, Book purchased for my Nook