austenland“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and a fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her.  There was no husband, but those weren’t necessary anymore.  There were boyfriends, and if they came and went in a regular stream of mutual dissatisfaction – well, that was the way of things, wasn’t it?  But Jane had a secret.”

My best friend has been recommending this book ever since she discovered it.  She’s a librarian, so that was probably immediately after it came out two years ago.  She knows me pretty well, especially when it comes to books.  And she was dead on with this recommendation.

Jane Hayes has had (in her mind) 13 boyfriends in her life, none of whom have met her expectations as to what a boyfriend should be.  Unfortunately, her ideal man is none other than Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.  And not only Mr. Darcy, but the Colin Firth version of Mr. Darcy.  She has a hidden copy of the mini series on DVD which she pulls out regularly to get her Darcy fix.  And she’s nearly resigned herself to the fact that she will never find Mr. Darcy and should just settle for whatever comes along next when a distant relative passes away and leaves her an all-expenses-paid trip to Pembrook Park.  Pembrook is an English resort which caters to the Austen-obsessed, fully immersing them in the world of Regency period England; complete with costumes and etiquette requirements.  Jane is face to face with her lifelong obsession with all things Darcy and, not sure what’s real and what isn’t when it comes to relationships at Pembrook, grows more and more exasperated with the men there.

This is every woman’s dream come true.  Well, every woman who has ever found themselves longing for their own Mr. Darcy (especially the Colin Firth Mr. Darcy!).   Jane provides the perfect everywoman as a character – the rational mind trying to outdo the emotional heart, second-guessing her every decision, and allowing her fancies to get the best of her at times.  We travel along with her as she tries to escape her obsession and relationship issues, finally coming to terms with her Darcy fetish.  All I can say, is that if you love anything Austen, you’ll want to grab this book.  I’m tempted to add it to my own personal collection, and consider myself a bit indebted to my friend for her fantastic recommendation.

Shannon Hale wrote “Austenland” and it was published in 2007.