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Monday, December 28, 2015

Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale

The idea behind the original Austenland book was that Austenland is basically a Regency theme park – set in an English country home - where rich women can pay to be romanced for a couple of weeks as if they were in a Jane Austen novel.     The main character in the original book is a bit of a fish out of water – her aunt paid for her to go, and she therefore has a slightly different experience than most of the women at Austenland because of different expectations.

In this new book, the new main character, Charlotte, is a self-made woman, trying to figure things out again after her husband has run off with another woman.     She’s got kids, and is along for the ride more for the Austen-vibe, though figuring that a little light flirting can’t hurt.

There are two other women there with her  - one who’s apparently been staying on for months, and the other one turns out to a be one of her 16-year-old daughter’s favorite singers, who has come to Austenland to recover from “consumption”.     This time around- there’s mystery afoot –one of the men has come up with a ghostly mystery concerning a maid who may or may not have killed all the nuns at a nearby abandoned nunnery.     The woman are amusing themselves running all over looking for clues, until Charlotte thinks she may have run into a dead body in a hidden room.  The problem is, the body is gone when she can go look again, and she’s just not sure if she’s worked herself into a paranoid frenzy, a la Catherine Norland in Northanger Abbey.

I think I liked this book better than the first – it’s still a light and fluffy story, but it’s a more mature light and fluffy story.     I cared a lot more about what Charlotte was going through.     I’m glad the author revisited this world.     It’s the type of story that could easily go to the side of gimmicky, but this second go around doesn’t do that.

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