Austenland by Shannon Hale

Through the gift of an elderly aunt, Jane is given a trip to Pembrook Park, where ladies can fulfill all their Regency desires by dressing, acting, and flirting just like a Regency woman. This is a perfect trip for Jane, who is maybe just a little bit obsessed with Mr. Darcy (and Colin Firth). She plans to use the trip to get back to reality, to see that even Mr. Darcy isn’t perfect.

Well, that sounds like a delightful idea for a book, doesn’t it? Especially for someone like me, a fan of Mr. Darcy (and Colin Firth). And yet, the book left me completely cold. Jane kept dithering about whether she wanted to be playacting or not, and I understood her discomfort with the idea of actors pretending to fall in love with her, but if Jane doesn’t know if she wants to be romantic or cynical, how am I, the reader, supposed to know how I feel about her and what she’s doing? (Actually, I do know – I think it was a bit creepy, actually. I wouldn’t be able to do something like that. Ever.) The whole book was like that, a back-and-forth between Jane having fun and Jane pondering the darker side of Pembrook Park. I think it would have been better to play it as a straight-up romance or to be a bit of a satire. Trying to do both didn’t work for me.

There were definitely some cute parts in the book, but overall, I’d say it’s not worth the effort. It didn’t live up to the dedication, which made me laugh out loud:

For Colin Firth
You’re a really great guy, but I’m married,
so I think we should just be friends.

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