Author: Shannon Hale
Publish Date: June 2007 Bloomsbury
From the New York Times bestselling author of Princess Academy, a delightful novel for the Mr. Darcy-obsessed in all of us.
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?
Technically this is an "adult" book - but it's a PG13ish one from a YA author.
Let’s face it as the creator of the #31flavorsofmrdarcy hashtag on twitter, I admit that I do love Jane Austen and yes, I, too, have an affinity for the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice” starring Colin Firth. Just ask my husband, he’ll nod his head. To all this add the fact that Shannon Hale is an excellent writer. The latter makes all the difference in this modernization of what is basically every Austen fan’s fantasy.
Hale's treatment of her romance weary heroine, aptly named Jane, is the best part of this satisfying, romantic read. Shannon's Jane is funny, uncertain, jaded and yet still hopeful. The hopeful part of her character will tug you along the plot line as you discover what is and isn't real.
If you're yearning to know what it would be like for a modern day person to step into a fantasy version of Austen's books, then by all means go along for this ride. You may be in for a few surprises. I will add that the ending is a tribute to Austen fans everywhere.
There is good news for all of us Austenland fans. A movie is in the works (link to Shannon’s post announcing it) and the sequel, Midnight in Austenland will be released on January 3, 2012. Now you know what I’ll be doing in the first few days of 2012.