Monday, July 9, 2012

Midnight in Austenland

I own a lot of books, and I am pretty sure my husband thinks I own too many books.  My husband likes to read and owns a lot of books as well.  He thought he owned a lot of books until he met me.  He honestly didn't think he would meet someone, let alone marry someone, that owned more books than he does.  With our combined collections we own A LOT of books.  People do not like to help us move due to our book collection.  I still love to buy books, but I really do prefer to get my books from the library now.  I only buy the books that I know I'll love, and I can justify the purchase of yet "another" book to my husband.

I honestly love to give books as a gift; I actually got the idea from my friend Sarah.  I'm a little disappointed in myself for not thinking of giving books as a gift earlier.  I love to give picture books as baby shower gifts, and I love to give a non-fiction or fiction book I think someone will enjoy as a Christmas or birthday present.  Books as presents are fun.  My good friend Sarah actually started giving me books as a gift and she would always write in the front cover of the book.  I LOVE re-reading what she wrote in the book b/c it always reminds me about a part of my life.  One year for my birthday, Sarah gave me Austenland by Shannon Hale.  I had read the Goose Girl series, Princess Academy, Rapunzel's Revenge, and all of her other books.  I really like Shannon Hale.  Therefore, when Sarah gave me Austenland I was excited.  I love Jane Austen books and I love Shannon Hale books; I was sure this would be the best of both worlds.  However, Austenland did not live up to the quality of writing that Hale's other books had.  I was actually extremely disappointed with Austenland.

As a result of me being so disappointed with Austenland I wasn't super excited for Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale.  I actually wasn't even going to read it, but my sister convinced me otherwise.  I'm glad that she did convince me otherwise.  Even though Midnight in Austenland was a little slow to get going it eventually picked up steam and did not slow down.  It became one of those books that you just want to keep reading to find out what happens next.  I want to also say that you do not need to read Austenland to understand and enjoy Midnight in Austenland.  I would actually suggest you don't even bother with Austenland; all you need to know is there is a place in England where you can go on vacation and live like you were in a setting of one of Jane Austen's books.  The setting is truly is the only thing the two Austenland stories have in common.     

Midnight in Austenland was written to the quality of Hale's other books.  Even though the character development was a bit predictable I still felt that the main character Charlotte really showed a lot of depth and growth throughout the story.  I also appreciated the flash backs into Charlotte's life.  Hale would have a little snippet from Charlotte's childhood or life before Austenland, but then Hale would quickly move into present day Austenland where Charlotte was staying on vacation.  I thought the back and forth writing helped develop Charlotte as a character that you become attached to as a reader.  Charlotte is a genuinely nice, witty, fun, and someone I want to be more like.  She truly is a great heroine in the story... just like all of the heroines in Jane Austen books.  

I would give this novel a 4 out of 5 stars.  It's a fun and fast read.  There is a mystery aspect to the story.  There is action and suspense in the story.  There is a bit of a love story.  There are realistic and relatable characters.  There are many pluses to the story that outweigh the negatives.  Ididn't give Midnight in Austenland a perfect 5 stars because the character development was predictable, the story was predictable at times, and it is a bit slow to get going.  However, if you like Jane Austen books and if you like clean realistic fiction books then you will like this one.  You actually don't even need to like or have read any Austen books, but it does make it a bit more fun when you do.

Amazon had the following description about the book:

"When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.

Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?"

I would highly suggest this book for a fun and quick read this summer.              


  1. Reading Midnight in Austenland actually encouraged me to read Jane Austen books, which I have come to love.

  2. Manda, I Love when books get us interested in other books. I'm glad you are liking Jane Austen books, they are fabulous!