Monday, August 5, 2013

Staff Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

As a Reader's Advisory librarian I try to keep abreast of what's hot in the world of books. I may not have time to read all of the latest best sellers, but as long as I have an idea what "everybody" is reading, I'll be ready to help a fan of Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones find an alternate book to enjoy while they wait out the hold list.

I'm willing to bet though that most Dubuquers haven't heard of Austenland, much less read Shannon Hale's engaging work of chick lit. Although, now that a movie adaption starring Keri Russell is due for a theatrical release on August 15th, I could be wrong!

Jane Austen and her novels remain a perennial favorite, and over the years we've been treated to any number of adaptions, remixes, continuations, and homages. You can trace Austen's influence across a wide variety of literature and pop cultural sources. All around the world readers swoon for the taciturn charms of Mr. Darcy.

Jane Hayes falls squarely into the category of Darcy-obsessives, particularly the Colin-Firth-as-Darcy-obsessives (much like Bridget Jones before her). When Jane's beloved great-aunt dies, she's given an unusual inheritance, an all expenses paid luxury vacation to Austen-themed resort in England. This isn't a serious work of literature, but it's a fun bit of escapism for us Austenholics with a charming little romance and some genuinely funny bits.

Essentially, if you liked Lost in Austen, you'll probably enjoy Austenland! If you haven't heard of Lost in Austen either, it's a charming romantic comedy about a young woman named Amanda who suddenly finds that she's switched places with Elizabeth Bennet. And if you find yourself wishing you could visit Austenland, keep hope! A recent celebration of Pride and Prejudice's 200th anniversary saw people attending a fancy dress Regency dinner in England.

Still not enough for you? Great! I've got more!

Images from the 2005 Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice paired with quotes from Parks & Recreation.'

Pamela Aidan first self-published her retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but her charming story quickly gained a large audience and a traditional publisher. A richly detailed view of the familiar story from the perspective of Darcy told in three novels. The series starts with An Assembly Such As This.

Thug Notes is the creation of Sparky Sweets, PhD. A series of videos mash-up hip-hop with analysis of literary classics (think Alistair Cookie and Monsterpiece Theater). I'm endlessly tickled by the Thug Notes video for Pride & Prejudice (there are a few swears):

-Sarah, Adult Services

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