‘Austenland’ – Shannon Hale

I’m really not sure what to make of this. I picked up Austenland as it fulfilled a prompt for the 2023 PopSugar challenge, and I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have read it otherwise.

Much as I like Austen, the thought of people being so obsessed with her works that they will pay to take part in an immersive Regency experience seems odd. Jane is a successful woman, living in New York, but she is presented as lacking something because of her infatuation with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. When a relative dies, the one thing she leaves in her will is a paid trip for Jane to Austenland.

What follows is just bizarre. Jane and other paying guests spend their days living as the kind of characters Austen would focus on. There are many rules, and Jane finds this hard to manage. Determined to not be a cliché she ends up acting in a way that marks her as the very character she’s determined not to be.

There is a love interest, but it felt a little contrived (perhaps because it wasn’t clear what was performance and what was real). So, not quite what I expected but an entertaining enough read.