Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Review: Midnight in Austenland

I loved Shannon Hale's Austenland when I first read it, so when I heard the sequel (well, sort of sequel - you can read them on their own or together) was coming out, I was pretty excited. Then I saw Midnight in Austenland was only $3.99 on Amazon for the kindle edition, and that was it. (It's still $3.99, incidentally, but I don't know for how much longer. So jump on that if you have an e-reader.)

The basic premise of both Austenland and Midnight in Austenland is that a woman who is not currently romantically involved with anyone winds up, through various circumstances, going on vacation to England to a getaway that promises an authentic Jane Austen experience (i.e. they pretend to live in the Regency era). The experience is complete with actors and love interests and even a proposal of marriage. As a Jane Austen fan, I found the concept to be quite intriguing and fun. 

Midnight in Austenland in particular focuses on Charlotte, a recently divorced woman trying to find a way to live again that isn't painful emotionally. A "let's pretend" vacation seems like exactly what she needs to start healing from her divorce and all the baggage that entailed. At first Charlotte comes across (to me) as somewhat unsympathetic. She is clever, yes, but an emotional ice cube and rather prickly. Still, there is an excellent reason for it, and as a reader I came to find her more and more sympathetic as the book progressed. The pacing was fast enough that I never found her stand-offish-ness too bothersome. By the end of the book I felt like she had grown tremendously, and the payout was well worth putting up with her emotionally numb character in the beginning.

I enjoyed some of the plot twists as well, particularly the love interest development. (Of course I did. That's one of the best parts of a Jane Austen-esque story.) I thought it was very well done. It was interesting to learn a little more about the history behind the woman running the Austen retreat as well, and great to see some of the returning side characters fleshed out a little more. 

As a whole, I found this book to be a fun, fast, light read. It's on the fluffy side, but well worth the time. I do think Austenland is my favorite of the two, but I still enjoyed this one tremendously.

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