Jane has fallen in love; the only unfortunate problem is: it’s with Mr. Darcy. In an unexpected turn of events, she finds herself vacationing in Austenland – a place where she can pretend to be the Austen heroine she always dreamed of. While Jane expects all her dreams to come true, she finds that living the Regency dream is not as enticing as she thought it would be.
So let me start with: I adore spoofs/satires! They can be so much fun when well-executed. Perhaps the only two things needed in liking a good spoof is that you’re a fan of what’s being spoofed (trust me, that’s a big deal, lol) – and the writer does it with wit and pizzazz. Austenland fit the bill for me; a well written, playful look at the obsession of Austenites. And we all (at least us period drama girls) have some Austenite love in us.
Wonderfully, I was able to connect right away with the heroine, Jane. Her struggle with let-down Austen-world expectations and confused feelings about Austenland was, to me, the most relatable aspect of her character. She feels bored and constricted; at the same time, she’s intrigued and anticipating what’s next in this crazy live-play. Could she really make an Austen hero fall in love with her? But would she want that? Should she want that? Or should she just hightail it out of Austenland and get back to reality?
It would’ve been too easy to make Austenland perfection for Jane – instead it’s a delightful mix of aggravation and romantic manifestation to her. I think my only real struggle with her character was the idea that shallowness will cure her problems. While it attempts to point out her desire to control all her relationships, it’s kind of laughable that seeking a completely non-commit relationship will fix her issues. Of course, the story isn’t looking to give Jane deep emotional growth (it’s a comedy with a dash of romance, after all). And the endgame romance, interestingly enough, ambiguously suggests a relationship more about commitment. At least, it leaves you to interpret what you want.
I was actually surprised at how similar the tone and story is to the movie (or really, it’s the other way around, lol). I would say that the book itself is a fraction less madcap than the movie (but it’s a very small fraction.) Much of the narrative is written for amusement – and it certainly made me laugh. In fact, it was so easy to imagine the movie characters saying the lines; I had no trouble conjuring up J. J. Feild in my mind, as the Darcy-inspired Mr. Nobley. Since I really like Feild… hehe… this most certainly was not an ill thing (okay, I admit – my Austenese stinks.)
I read this book in two days (which is a huge deal for me! I’m more likely to watch a movie or do something else if I’m bored with a story. Sad, I know) – it was just pure fun entertainment. Exactly the way a story should be.
CONTENT: double entrendes and innuendo in dialogue and narration about sex, sexuality, homosexuality, flirting, etc; lots of smooching and physical touching, frequent superficial approaches to relationships, a girl is assaulted by a man, some physically pushy relationships treated lightly and inconsequential