Successful teen author Shannon Hale is breaking into the adult market with Austenland. Unabashedly chicklit, it is an engaging read you won’t want to put down.
Jane Hayes – pretty, clever, a 30something with a thriving career (graphic artist) and even better hair, has one embarrassing secret obsession. Despite a stream of promising boyfriends (numbered but not named), her heart belongs to Mr. Darcy (as in Jane Austen’s), in the form of Colin Firth.
When Great Aunt Carolyn leaves her a legacy of a three-week, all-expense-paid holiday to a Jane Austen fantasy camp, her bags are packed. At Pembrook Park, Jane swaps her 21st century persona for a 19th century sensibility, complete with wardrobe, country dances, walks in the park and a supply of gentlemen as romantic interest. But when Jane falls for the gardener, breaks the rules and is expelled, an unexpected “Mr. Darcy” (Colin Firth in a wet shirt) comes through with the goods.
The plot is fresh though the ending is predictable. The language is snappy and humorous. The characters are well observed. Although the heroine is not without fault – she is dreamy and vulnerable, she is also smart, resourceful, and endearingly hopeful. I hope we'll meet again.