Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Austenland Isn't Quite

I was more than intrigued when hearing about the new book and movie Austenland by Shannon Hale.
Being the kind of Austen fan who keeps a copy of Pride and Prejudice in the bathroom just for snatching a few Austenian phrases and who has probably seen every movie based on her books. I sadly have no more authentic Austen to explore, as I have read every book, some multiple times, therefore, I lapped up Hale's promise to assuage my thirst.

Her main character, Jane, is a lot like all of us girls because she just happens to live in our modern world and can't seem to get over her obsession with Darcy. So far so good. Who can? With a stack of failed relationships meted out at the beginning of every chapter, we seem to get the idea that this girl has been around. It's obvious that this Jane is no expert in love, so much so that when her elderly aunt dies, the clever woman wills her niece a trip to the exclusive and pricey Austenland, a resort featuring the reenactment of the Regency period complete with actors, costumes and setting. Jane promises herself one last fling in fantasyland and then she will join the real world once and for all.

And this is where the slow leak in Hale's book begins. I'm afraid I didn't feel it. I wanted to. I wanted my last fling in fantasyland too! I imagined the feel of that Spencer jacket myself. I smoothed my imaginary empire waist gown over my own stomach. I love, love the idea of it all. I tried.
But Hale's Darcy, Mr. Nobley didn't deliver. Her veiled Mr. Wickham, Martin the gardener, was not quite up to snuff either. I won't give the end away because you may want to decide for yourself on this one.

I'm back to re-reading the Queen of Regency herself. So what that I know the characters like the back of my own hand? Never mind that I sometimes speak Austenian and often compare people in my life (and my daughter's lives) to all of the characters.  I was a prime consumer for the book. I'll take a look-see at the movie and let y'all know what I think. Hale is onto a good thing. But so far, it's pretty
hard to beat Jane Austen.

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