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on 25 February 2014
I am a Jane Austen fan, read everything she wrote, enjoy the adaptations. So, I could not have pass on the opportunity to read "Austenland" after I watched the film by the same name.

"Austenland" the film is somewhat enjoyable, and occasionally funny. The book, while being different from the film (not so funny, I thought), still provided light entertainment (alas, there was no Jennifer Coolidge). The whole Jane Austen and Mr Darcy obsession of the main character felt completely believable to me, yet the flimsiness and silliness of heroine when it came to men in her life spoiled the book for me. Same with the romance - there was really no believable chemistry between the leads, but a lot of sentimental gibberish sprinkled with weak attempts at regency. I think the idea of "Austenland" retreat sound good when thought of and discussed, but was not executed to its full potential. The whole actors playing falling in love with rich ladies who pay money to wear Nineteenth century dresses felt somewhat surreal to me...

It is not a classic, it's not Jane Austen, it's not an attempt at a regency novel, but a typical chicklit book sprinkled with regency drama, a very light entertainment. Do not expect a vivid historic drama or a heart-breaking love story. That said, it's only 208 pages long and the cover is exquisitely designed. I would not mind checking out the second book of the series.
3 people found this helpful
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 October 2013
I came upon this book after hearing about the film that has been made of it, currently on limited release in cinemas, but (from what I hear) likely to move fairly swiftly to DVD. The story sounds intriguing: a modern-day American going to a (fictional) Jane Austen themepark. Well, in the book at any rate it's not really a theme park; it's an exclusive country house populated by actors where a very small number of Jane Austen obsessives can live out their Regency gentleman-related fantasies.

It's all very proper, but also quite fake, and mildly comic. A good deal of the fun and confusion comes from not knowing when characters are acting and when they are sincere, and from the reality of the present day continuously showing through the Regency veneer. But it's an escapist romance within an escapist romance, so the ultimate payoff of the book isn't too hard to imagine. It's frothy and light, and good fun without being at all taxing. I'm not sure I'd want to read any more of the series (yes, there are sequels), but as a standalone novel, it was good fun.

I listened to the American audiobook version, which comes on 5 CDs in cardboard packaging. It's read by Katherine Kellgren, who is a New Yorker but who studied at RADA, and who manages to switch between American and British accents without any apparent trouble (although Martin's Bristol/Sheffield working class accent is more than a bit of a pastiche). It's a spirited reading, giving about 6 and a half hours of listening - more than enough to keep you amused on a trip from London to Edinburgh.
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on 22 April 2013
I bought this as a rainy day distraction on Kindle and almost read it in one sitting. Austenland is a deceptively light and easy read. I say deceptive, because it's a great idea for a story, cleverly written with some lovely descriptive writing at times which makes storytelling seem easy, when I'm sure it was rather painstakingly crafted.

The idea of a Jane Austen immersion experience, like an extended murder mystery weekend, is a clever one, from which evocative scenes flowed, full of supressed desires and battles of wit between well-drawn and often conniving characters. I loved Mrs Wattlesbrook, and her harsh dictatorship style of management, it was the anchor which made the rest of the book believable. Miss Charming was a great comic character who could have been incredibly annoying, but instead was funny and engaging.

The main character Jane, whilst somewhat stereotypical of the Thirty-Something-Girl-About-Town-Addicted-To-Chocolate-But-Oh-Dear,-Still-Can't-Find-Mr-Right cliche, manages to be very likeable with a wit which sometimes indeed could match Elizabeth Bennett. I get so tired sometimes of the same old neurotic heroines who panic hourly over men and shoes, but was surprised to find I really liked both the real Jane and Jane Erstwhile, her Austen alterego.

It takes great skill to make a vastly entertaining book out of three weeks of doing ostensibly nothing, but Shannon Hale manages it with aplomb and without too much repetition. The details of dress and food etc. were interesting, especially for Austen fans, as those books have little or no such information.

This is chick lit as it should be. The characters might be instantly recognisable, but the idea is fresh and it's well written. True, there are one or two things that might jar the reader briefly out of the story, but they're minor, and the vast majority of non-UK readers wouldn't notice them at all.

I look forward to seeing the movie later this year, although I'm aware that some of the sparkle of the novel, running like a seam through the narrative - sometimes just in the way words are beautifully put together - will likely be lost.
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on 17 March 2015
I saw the film first and really enjoyed it and watched it again. Then realised when looking on IMDB that this was from a novel. The film is lovely and lively, but the book is better still, adding depth and detail to the story that did not appear in the film. I could not get an idea of how long a period of time the film took place in. The book cleared that all up. There are differences between the film and the nook although they both end up in the same place. I loved the book and have downloaded Shannon' s next book.
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on 9 November 2017
I watched the film so decided it was only wrote that I read the book: from the dedication on the first page to the last page, it was a joyous read and all I can say is that I wish there really was a place called “Austenland” because I would be first in line to go there.
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on 10 June 2018
so funny make sure you what the end titles because you get to see how much fun they must of had making it
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on 5 May 2013
A light hearted read that just didn't quite manage to captivate me. I found myself picking fault with the idea that ladies of a certain age would want to be romanced by actors. Even worse a vital and successful thirty something choosing Austen over reality! However, if you put your sensible thoughts on hold and just go with the flow the book is a good holiday read. It takes you away from real life and makes you smile. What more do you want from a book sometimes!
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on 19 September 2014
Such a sweet and fun book. I loved it. I loved the characters and the story. It did take me a little while to get into the story but once Jane arrived in Austenland the story gripped me. One thing I wasn't expecting was how funny the book was. The ending was perfect and left me grinning from ear to ear. A real feel good book. I haven't seen the film but will be checking it out
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on 4 July 2013
I chose this book because anything to do with Austen I just love. I can get lost in this type of book although I must admit I am easy to please and this is easy reading. So if there is anyone reading this review that likes a light romance then this is the book for you. Slightly better than Midnight in Austenland but only slightly. I can imagine myself dressed in the costumes and playing the game. I would love it.
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on 13 May 2013
Hooked from the start. Loved the idea of a themed hotel, a different twist on the usual Austen based books. The story worked well and kept me guessing until the end. At times I found myself forgetting which century we were in. I don't think the quotes were ever meant to be entirely accurate, they just add to the story. Looking forward to reading the next book.
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