Review

It is a truth universally acknowledged that women of a certain age long for the love and romance they once dreamed would be theirs, but alas, was unattainable…or is that just me?

I first heard about AUSTENLAND, the film, from my sister-in-law and we tried to get to the theatres while it was on the big screen, but we just couldn’t make it happen.  So, I got my first glimpse of AUSTENLAND, on Amazon Instant Video.  I have now purchased the Blu-Ray and watched it at least five times.  My daughter and I just get a kick out of the witty, funny, over-the-top, laugh-out loud, campy characters and, being Jane Austen fans ourselves, can unashamedly admit to relating to the main character, Jane Hayes. And let’s face it, who among us romantics hasn’t dreamed of our very own Mr. Darcy?

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?

Austenland-DVD

After watching the film so many times, I just had to see if the book (by the same name) by Shannon Hale was better (which generally speaking they are) and what changes were made for the Tinseltown adaptation.

As with most book-to-film adaptations, there are things I liked better in the book and some things I liked better about the film. But the bottom line is that you will truly be missing out if you don’t read the book and watch the film.

Without giving away spoilers, I can say the characters in the book were much more realistic and not as over-the-top as in the film, but New York Times Bestselling author Shannon Hale’s wicked and witty writing is nothing short of brilliant.

One of the things I absolutely loved about the book was getting the insider view of Jane Hayes’s thoughts. Shannon Hale has a completely “real” way of writing. I found I couldn’t help but like Jane Hayes and I suppose, if Jane were real and not a character, we’d be the best of friends.

So, boosted by a bad case of insomnia, I was able to read both AUSTENLAND and MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND in just a few nights – nights that left me with a permanent smile to go along with the punched-in-the-face, sleep-deprived eyes. I literally was laughing so hard; I thought I’d wake the house on more than one occasion.

Midnight in AustenlandThe sequel to AUSTENLAND, MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND introduces us to Charlotte Kinder (another one of my new besties), a divorced mother of two who was unceremoniously dumped by her ex-husband for his ditzy (along with sexy and young) mistress.

When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests’ Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn’t sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside’s mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte’s heart be a sign of real-life love?

…I recommend these books for the uproarious laughs, for the “Inner Thoughts” and for the sheer enjoyment of them.

The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen’s world. How could it not turn out right in the end?

Where AUSTENLAND followed the PRIDE AND PREJUDICE line, MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND went the route of NORTHANGER ABBEY (which I happen to love as well).

One of the things I enjoyed most about MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND are Charlotte’s “Inner Thoughts,” which, quite honestly, rival my own. Charlotte was me; sans cheating ex-husband and large bank account. I especially connected to her “Inner Thoughts” worrying about her children. How many times have I thought the most insane scenarios could have happened to my children if I don’t hear from them after some time? (Yes, I did actually worry about my daughter being hit by lightening during church camp, but that wasn’t as bad as my mother worrying about my daughter getting mauled by a bear…I digress…)

Ms. Hale has an innate ability to make each of her characters come to life on the pages and writing them in such an endearing way, you hate to say good-bye to them when the book ends. I keep thinking I can just Google Charlotte Kinder and Jane Hayes, send them emails, and tell them we should become “bosom buddies.”

Yes, I AM a hopeless romantic, but I recommend these books for the uproarious laughs, for the “Inner Thoughts” and for the sheer enjoyment of them.

Just so I don’t miss out on a perfect opportunity, Shannon, can WE become besties (I use this term strictly to irritate my daughter)?  Anyone who can write like you, and has such a wonderful sense of humor, can be my friend any day of the week.

P.S. For those watching the film, DO NOT miss the hilarity that happens while the end credits are rolling.

Please support the author by purchasing her books:

AUSTENLAND

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MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND

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AUSTENLAND DVD

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Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/jfmo4o9
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About the Reviewer

Dayna Linton

Dayna Linton – Dayna is the very busy divorced mother of four “exceptional” children. She spends her time running not only this website but is also the founder and President of Rising Phoenix Charitable Foundation (www.rpcf.org) – a charitable organization which benefits women and children’s causes. Dayna is a firm believer in the worth and value of individuals and hopes to help all embrace who they are, nourish themselves and then “pay it forward” by helping others around them to do the same.

In her spare time, Dayna enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on and hopes to someday have the time to write a book herself.

Dayna is also an avid lover of film and the process that goes into making them. From an early age, she remembers watching the Academy Awards with her mom and cheering on her favorites. When Dayna was little, she just knew she was going to be a big star someday and she would practice in front of a mirror accepting her Oscar. Dayna took four years of drama, which she loved, but found her true passion was dancing. Even today you can catch Dayna dancing just about everywhere she goes, including beaches in the moonlight …