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Austenland by Shannon Hale (Book vs. Movie!)

By 19:55:00 , , ,

You know what? I usually feel this pervasive sense of shame when I want to read chick lit. I'm so happy I ignored that feeling and actually picked this book up for my kindle.

The book focuses on Jane Hayes, a New Yorker obsessed with the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. She's intense when it comes to relationships, and hers have never seemed to work out very well. There are funny little snippets featuring all her boyfriends between the chapters. Essentially, Jane ends up on a trip to Austenland, an English resort that allows her to dress and act like she was part of Jane Austen's world. There are also some very handsome actors to make the ladies feel like Austen heroines...

Austenland is such a cute book, it made me giggle so many times. I've seen the film before and it was super cheesy and hilarious, and I thought maybe the book would be something similar. It's better than the movie (no real surprise there), and it's definitely less ridiculous and cheesy.

I like that book-Jane isn't made out to be a ridiculous spinster with a Jane Austen obsession. I mean, she is obsessed with all that, but I feel like the movie makes too much fun of it. In the book, Jane has a Pride & Prejudice DVD that she hides because she feels ashamed about it. Now, in the movie, Jane's bedroom looks like...this:

She is also shown as owning a Colin Firth cardboard cut-out. As a Jane Austen fangirl I take the movie treatment of Jane as a bit of an offence. Is it so wrong to enjoy Austen's work that women who do can easily be imagined as virginal, doll-owning creatures who love pink and any kind of Austen collectibles they find? Is the film saying we should be ashamed of loving Austen?  Because Jane in the movie hides her Austen obsession in a separate room. It screams 'no one can know that I like classical romantic literature because it's just embarrassing!' at me. And I don't understand why, I really don't. There's nothing embarrassing or wrong about liking Austen. No one will ever be able to convince me of that.

That being said, the book actually makes me feel like I can identify with Jane. It's so much nicer. And it doesn't judge the reader for liking Austen.

In conclusion, Austenland is such a nice, light-hearted book and sometimes that's exactly what you need! Austenland movie: you're superficially funny but actually you kind of suck.


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