Midnight in Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Published: January 31, 2012
Genre: chick lit
Hardcover: 277 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 2.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): 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?
My Thoughts: I have not read any of Shannon Hale's other books, but with so many books under her belt, I felt like I should give her a try. Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to the expectations that I had for it. I picked up the book hoping for a chick lit book based in the world of Jane Austen, with some Austen references thrown in. However, after a brief mention at the beginning that Charlotte (the main character) had picked up Pride and Prejudice, there wasn't much else to do with Austen. Sure, the main setting was a resort set in the Regency era, but there didn't seem to be much to make a connection between why these grown adults were playing dress up and Austen's books.
The writing was good and I did like how Hale is in the character's head, expressing what their true thoughts are (even the sarcastic ones). She really tapped into Charlotte's thoughts and I enjoyed learning more about her character from the internal monologues. But the writing wasn't enough to make me want more pertaining to Austen. I finished the novel feeling disappointed, feeling like I was fooled into believing that there would be more substance than there actually was.