Monday, July 29, 2013

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale


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Austenland--the beautiful place where we can all go and get our Regency Austen fix. Balls, corsets, etiquette, and of course a man :)

It's fabulous in theory. I really, really want to like the Austenland novels. But they almost become to fluffy, like cotton candy blowing through the land on a windy day, or how it tastes really good for the first millisecond before it all dissolves in your mouth and you realize how empty it was...

Hale's heroines have to be confidenceless women who don't how awesome they are until a man lets them know they are. We meet our fabulous character Charlotte Constance Kinder...who's a consistent people pleaser. It's her duty to let the ones she loves to step all over her, even when her dirtbag husband cheats on her and she bends over backwards to make it all better when he divorces her. Giving him half of her business accounts and assets, all but the actual business. Good thing she keeps making money, though, so at least she's not penniless...

We see bits and pieces of her life before she gets to Austenland told in short flashbacks. She has the perfect life, a perfect husband, with two perfect children until she doesn't and decides to use a bit of her talents on the internet and boom she has a multi-million dollar business and her husband can't handle a woman who makes more than he does...

She blames herself, of course, it was her job to keep her man. There must be something wrong with her.

Enter vacation at Austenland. She reads up on her Austen, Agatha Christie, and gothic novels and she's set up for a fabulous trip back to Regency England and even a "marriage proposal" by the end of the two weeks.

I don't know. It was fluffy, and cute, a nice cozy romantic mystery. But I wanted more and I expected more. Hale never gives any motivation for Charlotte. Why does she feel she needs to be a doormat? Why can't one still find love even if they already know how awesome they are? Why does Hale have to make her characters so clueless? Just to make sure they realize in two weeks how awesome they are because a man has fallen in love with them? It seems to always go back to what a man thinks. Does he think she's clever enough? Well, because she asked that in her head he knew she was the one for him....and even at the end with the bad experience from her first husband you would think she would be a bit more cautious about whom she claims to fall in love with...he is an actor after all...it was all so unmotivational and cliche.

I guess the gothic mystery was OK. The whodunnit and all that. But the characters never once rang true for me. Even her demonization of alcohol was really odd. Why did she not like alcohol? OK, you don't like it, it's not for you...but it seemed that every character that partook in the novel was a bad person...and the one person she falls in love with is an alcoholic so he's now sober and will never touch any again! Yay! So convenient! Everything just is so convenient. I guess that's the point of a silly, fluffy, cozy, child romantic book. It's written for adults but it felt like it was written by a teenager. I don't know. Hale has not shown adult fiction chops. But I keep hoping and waiting and keep getting disappointed.

4 comments:

  1. I enjoy the Austenland books, but I agree that they are a little too fluffy.

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    1. I was a bit mean with this review...but I just wanted it to be better than it was! ha ha!

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  2. Uh oh, I don't know that I could handle these. Books about women who need a man to be whole make me crazy.

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    1. Which is why I tend to chew some of these books apart when I read them ;)

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