11 April 2012


Thanks to the Sourcebook sale back in December, I broke the ice on Austen-esque sequels/updates/retellings.  Now, thanks to the NOOK Daily Find, I've come up with another Austen retelling that I've thinking of reading:  Shannon Hale's Austenland.

Jane Hayes has an obsession with Jane Austen, more specifically with Mr. Darcy of the Colin-Firth-in-a-wet-shirt-variety.  Great-Aunt Carolyn suspects this is why Jane is still single - no mortal man measures up.  When the aunt dies, she leaves Jane a trip to Pembrook Park - an "immersion" vacation specializing in Jane Austen's novels (hence the title, Austenland).  Jane decides to take the trip, to get Mr. Darcy out of her system, and be ready to face the world Austen-free.

Pembrook Park is a bit of a trial - no cell phones, no computers, no electricity, and no hanky-panky (or, at least, none it seems if one is below a certain paying rate).  Jane rediscovers old passions (she used to paint) and makes the acquaintance of a rule-breaking gardener (Martin) and a stiff-necked, proper English gentleman (Mr. Nobley - who reeks of eau de Darcy) providing her with the perfect love triangle.  But who is acting the part and who is real?

This is easily the best Austen adaptation I've read.  Hale uses Austen's themes of propriety, marriage, honesty, and love to explore Jane's dilemma.  Jane's ex-es are taken out and examined, one per chapter, and their offenses detailed.  None are spared, from her kindergarten crush to the recent walk-out of her fiancee.  Buried within the Pride and Prejudice plot and Jane's love of Mr. Darcy is the wish to find a man who might take one for a mere fifty pounds per annum, to paraphrase Lizzy Bennet.  Known in the modern sense as the wish to find a partner who doesn't take you for granted or treat you like crap. Which all of Jane's boyfriends have done - they don't respect her or, in the case of her fiancee, don't treat her very well.

Midnight in Austenland is definitely going in my TBR!

No comments:

Post a Comment