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Book to Film: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes is a thirty-something woman who's been unlucky in love. She's pretty and has a great career, but then she has a secret - she's obsessed with everything Jane Austen, particularly Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth version!). To help Jane overcome with her obsession, her wealthy aunt sends her to Austenland - a vacation destination that takes you to the regency era. Jane leaves New York for England with hopes of fulfilling her dreams of wearing period clothing, channeling her inner Elizabeth Bennet and finding her own Mr. Darcy.

I came across this novel as I was checking JJ Feild's page (After watching Northanger Abbey for the nth time) and finding out he was set to star in the movie adaptation of the novel Austenland. Before watching the movie, I opted to read the novel first. 

The book is a light and easy read. The writing style was a bit unbalanced - at the first few chapters, it was a modern chic-lit style, then when Jane was in Austenland, the writing became Jane Austen-ish. I liked the latter style better. 

So in the story, we meet Jane who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy and so in order to get over it, she is sent to Austenland. Jane was hard to like for me in the beginning, but she came out alright in the end. I did enjoy the other characters - the suitors and the girls who were with Jane were just hilarious. I'm talking mostly about you, Miss Charming.

I thought the movie was better than the book. Probably because the actors were great, pacing was good and it made me enjoy the story more than the book did. 

Jane "Erstwhile" Hayes is played by Keri Russell. She was likable as the heroine and had good chemistry with her leads. 

The suitors were great. JJ Feild (swoon!) played Mr. Henry Nobley, our resident Mr. Darcy. As he had already experience playing one of Austen's leads, he did very well with his role. Actor Bret McKenzie was also good with his role as Martin, who is also a contender for Jane's heart.

JJ Feild as Mr. Henry Nobley

Bret McKenzie as Martin

And of course, Jennifer Coolidge was just perfect as Miss Elizabeth Charming, Jane's fellow guest at Austenland. She was hysterical. 

There are some differences between the novel and the movie adaptation. One is that in the movie, Jane paid for her own vacation in Austenland. Another difference is that Henry is Mrs. Wattlesbrook's nephew in the movie but that was not the case in the book. Other characters were also written out of the movie, such as Jane's mother, her aunt and Aunt Saffronia. Her role was fused with Mrs. Wattlesbrook instead. 

Shannon Hale's Austenland is light-hearted, easy read story. The movie was over-the-top, fun and hilarious. A movie you want to watch if you just want to laugh out loud and be silly. Jane Austen fans who longed to kiss Mr. Darcy should check this story out and see how Jane makes our dreams come true. 

Title: Austenland

Author: Shannon Hale
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Rating: ♨♨♨ (3 cups)

Movie Title: Austenland

Director: Jerusha Hess
Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour
Release Date: 2013
Rating: ♨♨♨ (3.5 cups)


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