Reviews for Austenland


Booklist Reviews 2007 March #2
Suppose you're a huge fan of Jane Austen, and in particular Pride and Prejudice and in particular Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation, and nothing in real life quite measures up. And suppose your great-aunt's legacy to you is a three-week vacation at an Austen-themed resort. This is the situation in which Jane Hayes, New York graphic artist, finds herself. Pembrook Park is a kind of Austen Fantasy Island where the female guests are required to dress, speak, eat, and in every way conduct themselves like heroines in Austen's novels, with actors filling out the roles of eligible suitors. Jane, called Miss Erstwhile for the duration of her stay, tries to get used to corsets and other Regency amusements while sorting out whether the attentions of a Darcyesque Mr. Nobley, not to mention a good-looking gardener, are sincere or part of the show. A clever confection for fans of contemporary Austen knockoffs. ((Reviewed March 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2007 February #2
Yet another player in the literary parlor game of re-writing Jane Austen.From the dedication to Colin Firth, Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries, Hale, author of YA novels (River Secrets, 2006, etc.), lets the reader know her tongue is firmly in cheek. Hale's heroine, Jane Hayes, is a single New York professional with a secret passion for Pride and Prejudice--not the novel, but the more over-the-top romantic screen versions, particularly the one starring Firth. Shortly after her Great-Aunt Carolyn discovers Jane's obsession, the old lady conveniently dies, having bequeathed to Jane a three-week stay at Pembrook Park, a fantasy version of a Regency England country estate (modern plumbing, but no cell phones allowed). Temporarily re-christened "Miss Jane Erstwhile," Jane soon finds herself plopped into the center of several Austen novels rolled together. Her fellow guests are the pathetically needy "Miss Charming" and the gentle, genuinely charming "Miss Heartwright." Knowing that the hosts and male guests are clearly actors does not keep Jane from confusing fact with fantasy. As she resists the falseness of the situation, she falls into a contemporary fling with Martin, an actor playing a gardener on the estate, with whom she watches television and makes out. She also finds herself drawn to "Mr. Nobley," a Darcy stand-in. But is it the character being played whom she's attracted to? Or the man playing him? The novel is clever in its depiction of the many ways in which romance can fall away, and Jane is no fool as she attempts to sort out the real from the make-believe. Readers will be as surprised as she is by some of the twists. But ultimately this is a romance novel in which lovers who are meant to be together overcome miscues and misunderstandings before the final clinch.Mindless froth that Austen addicts will love. Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

----------------------
Library Journal Reviews 2007 April #2

In her first novel for adults, Newbery Honor Medalist Hale (Princess Academy ) puts an intriguing twist on Austenmania by writing about a Jane Austen fantasy camp tailor-made for Colin Firth obsessives looking for their very own Mr. Darcy. Jane Hayes has the history of bad experiences with men typical of all chick-lit heroines, so she's resigned herself to a life of clandestine viewings of Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version, of course). Her wealthy Aunt Carolyn discovers her obsession and leaves Jane a fascinating bequest: a trip to Pembrook Park, a Regency-themed retreat where actors play out women's romantic fantasies. Jane adopts the identity of Miss Jane Erstwhile, dons her corset and gown, and experiences life as a Regency lady. She falls for a gardener--a big no-no at the camp--while also finding herself strangely attracted to cranky, distant Mr. Nobley. The hijinks that follow are entertaining if predictable (especially for P&P Austen fans). An amusing trifle likely to please chick-lit readers and Austen aficionados who enjoy modern twists on the author's classic tales.--Nanette Donohue, Champaign P.L., IL

[Page 72]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 February #2

In 32-year-old singleton Jane Hayes's mind, no man in the world can measure up to Fitzwilliam Darcyâ€"specifically the Fitzwilliam played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice . Jane is forced to confront her Austen obsession when her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her an all-expenses-paid vacation to Pembrook Park, a British resort where guests live like the characters in Jane's beloved Austen novels. Jane sees the trip as an opportunity for one last indulgence of her obsession before she puts it "all behind herâ€"Austen, men, fantasies, period," but the lines between reality and fiction become pleasantly blurred as Jane acclimates to the world of Spencer jackets and stringent etiquette rules, and finds herself torn between the Darcyesque Mr. Nobley and a forbidden tryst with Pembrook Park's gardener. Though the narrative is endlessly charming, Jane is convincing neither as a sarcastic single girl nor as a romantic idealist, and the supporting cast is underdeveloped. Nods to Austen are abundant in contemporary women's fiction, and an intriguing setup and abundant wit are not enough to make this one stand out. (June)

[Page 59]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2007 June

Adult/High School-- Thirty-three-year-old Jane Hayes, who has a fairly serious addiction to the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice , inherits a trip to Pembrook Park, Kent, England, the location of a resort where guests dress, talk, think, and act in ways that Jane Austen would approve. Refusing to lie about her age, even on vacation in a place right out of Austen's England, Jane finds herself quickly overcoming the obsession with Mr. Darcy that may very well have jeopardized her 13 "relationships" over the years. Left to walk in last to dinner, mildly obsessed with one of the hotel's gardeners, and annoyed by another guest's overeager attempts to bag a man, Jane is eager to return to Manhattan. Then she decides to give it all one more chance, since Great-Aunt Carolyn did see fit to pay for the entire vacation. Hale does a lovely job with the tale of a single woman who would appreciate a genuine shot at love. The book is well written, quite readable, and the myriad characters, especially those working at the resort, are quirkily funny. Given the immense popularity of Jane Austen's novels among teen girls, this book definitely has cross-over appeal.--Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA

[Page 179]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

----------------------