Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published on: February 6, 2012
Page Count: 288
Genre: Adult fiction
My Reading Format: Advanced reading PDF by Netgalley
Available Formats: Hardcover

My Review: 

When recently single Charlotte Kinder reaches the breaking point due to the complicated family dynamics among her ex-husband, their two children and his new wife, Charlotte needs to escape reality. She finds a list of goals she wrote earlier in her life of things to do before turning 30. One of them is to read Jane Austen's six novels. When her children head to their father's for the weekend she does just that and is left wondering what it would be like to be an Austen heroine. To find out, she books a two-week stay at Austenland, an English estate where immersing oneself in everything Regency sounds like the break Charlotte needs. Upon the guests' arrival, they are met with their potential love interests (paid actors) and a mystery that must be solved before the ball on the last night of the vacation. Not only will Charlotte take the helm in solving this mystery, but she uncovers another, which is fact rather than fiction, and shows the dark side of this world where tourists and actors play at an Austen-themed life.

Charlotte proves herself to be both a very human and very hilarious main character. Her struggles to stay in character is difficult considering all the self-dialogue she's involved in during nearly every waking moment. Some of the chapters in this book give readers background information on Charlotte's marriage, her life as a mom and successful businesswoman, and her struggles to define her relationship with her ex-husband while balancing the single life. The other chapters involve Charlotte's time in Austenland and the clever way she solves not one but two mysteries. Though I am regularly amused by the books I read, few books actually make me laugh aloud, but this one did. And, most satisfactorily, by the end of the book she's not only found a mate in true Austen style, but found herself as well.

Note: Hale's 2007 novel, Austenland, is being made into a movie.

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