Friday, June 15, 2007

Austenland: A Novel


Austenland [AUSTENLAND -OS]
Austenland: A Novel
by Shannon Hale, (2007) Katherine Kellgren (Narrator)

  • If you love Jane Austen novels, this book is for you.
  • If you love the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and think Colin Firth is the BEST EVER Darcy, this book is for you.
  • If you enjoy a lighthearted romance that you would not be embarrassed to share with your mother or your daughters, this book is for you.
  • If you are currently sewing period dresses for a daughter who has become involved in English Country Dancing and making note of how most of the fullness in Regency style empire waisted skirts is at the back at of the dress to allow for a smooth profile from the front, this book is for you.

Thirty-two year old Jane Hayes feels like she is a loser at love. She has the DVD of the BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice which she pulls out when she needs a shot of Mr. Darcy. She longs for the romantic connection of an Elizabeth Bennet-and-Fitzwilliam Darcy sort in her own life.

She is bequeathed a trip to "Jane Austen World" in England, by a great-aunt. Pembrook Park lets the "campers" live and breathe 18th century England, complete with elegant gowns, etiquette and diversions. Jane decides this is her opportunity to purge herself of her Darcy neediness by immersing herself in the fantasy. She is a 21st century person at heart though, so as she becomes accustomed to corsets and dresses that are not conducive to exercise, there is a part of her that holds back. In her heart she knows the "gentlemen" are actors but that does not keep her from wishing for a true romance.

I enjoyed Jane's ability to match the events at Pembrook Park to the plots and characters from Jane Austen's novels. This is an entertaining and fun summer read. No one can "do" Jane Austen. Austenland is Shannon Hale's curtsy to the master.

I listened to audio version of the book because of my schedule. I enjoyed it but I am also looking forward to going back and actually reading it, which is something I rarely do.

14 comments:

Michele said...

I wonder if this is out over here yet ? Must go and check the OPAC !

Camille said...

The book does not have the biting humor of Bridget Jones (that would have made it a grand slam home run) but it is a fun read.

leslie said...

A friend of mine, who was what I consider an Austen expert in college, just gave me her copy of "Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs." She says it's a hoot and a perfect summer read. I guess Jane never gets old!

Camille said...

l-
That sounds like a must read! Thanks!

Kelly Fineman said...

I read it a few weeks ago and loved it (and posted a review here).

Are you seriously making a period dress? What pattern are you using?

Camille said...

Kelly,
Yes, I am making a period dress. This is the "dry run" version on relatively inexpensive fabric. Once I am sure of the fit, I will acquire some "better" fabric and try it again. The pattern I am making is very authentic, down to the drawstring casing around the neckline (which is apparently how they fit the garments then) because I am apparently a glutton for punishment. I think there was an easier one out there which I can tell you about if you are really interested. I think you have to have done a lot of sewing (I am fairly proficient) to understand the one I am working with. My daughter keeps asking, "How is the dress coming?" It has actually been kinda fun though and has given me a whole new lens to watch Sense and Sensibility and P&P with now.

TadMack said...

You are winning prizes yet AGAIN as Best Mother, EVER. I mean, sure, Mom made my wedding dress. But was it aRegency style empire waisted skirt? Noooo...

Becky said...

I can't read to read this book!!!

Michele said...

The library has ONE copy on order, so I've slapped a reservation on it !!

Robin Brande said...

I saw the announcement for this book in Publisher's Marketplace last year, and I've been waiting and waiting ever since! Thanks for reminding me. I know what to do.

Bohae said...

I absolutely LOVED reading Austenland. Isn't Shannon Hale just an amazing author??

Becky said...

I'm still fourth in line for the library system's lone copy. Glad to hear it's worth waiting for. Definitely sounds like a fun summer read.

Please post a picture of the dress when you're done. I'd like to see it, and I'm sure my 9.5yo daughter would too...

Camille said...

I will post a photo when the dress is done. The girl was here for the weekend and she tried it on. I still have to finish the hooks etc on the back and put in the hem and get some ribbon for the waist -- but when she tried it on and flipped her hair up -- I have to say, I thought, "Wow, I did it!" She looked like she had stepped out of time! It was amazing.

Kelly Fineman said...

I've made a period costume for my daughter that was Renaissance (complete with a drawstring-necked underdress and a lined, grommeted, lace-up bodice), and a number of other clothes and costumes, so I'd probably be okay with the fancy pattern. I've done some online research into patterns, but can't figure which one seems most authentic. I've been planning on heading to the fabric store to have a look-see at the Butterick, McCalls and whatnot. Any suggestions would be excellent.