Jane Austen stories just vibe so well with me, and it’s no wonder I was an English major. But I also love to see the off-the-wall adaptations and stories that draw on Austen’s six existing novels, her juvenalia, and even her own life. I went through a phase in high school where I binge-read/watched all of these stories about people who are obsessed with Jane Austen re-enactments, and that’s when I discovered Austenland by Shannon Hale. It’s…you’ve got to read it and see it.
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen: or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
It’s a quick, romantic read. It’s got laughs, its got feels, and it’s just a good read for a beach trip, a cold winter night in front of the fire, or any other time you just want to lose yourself in a story.
Now…on to the movie. It stars Kerri Russell for crying out loud! It adapts the story pretty well, it’s got some decadent costuming, and it’s like being in the story in such a special way because of the story being so “fanfiction” esque in itself–being that it’s about a Jane obsessed with Jane.
Watch the trailer, and let me know–have you read or seen it?