Rebekah Scott's Reviews > Midnight in Austenland

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
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's review
May 21, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012
Read in May, 2012

For Charlotte Kinder, a two week escape into the world of Jane Austen is just what she needs to refresh herself after her recent divorce. Tired of the bad blind dates set up by well-meaning friends and her workaholic existence, Charlotte longs to lose herself even if just for a little while.

With her two children safely stowed at her cheating ex-husband’s and new wife’s home, Charlotte jets off to England for a fortnight’s stay at Pembroke Park, an immersive Regency Era re-enactment resort – an Austenland, if you will. Dressed in the period clothing of empire waist gowns, corsets, and chemises; and surrounded by appropriately handsome actors worthy of the Mr. Darcy comparisons, Charlotte prepares herself to live out a “Pride and Prejudice” experience of balls, proposals and a haughty, brooding gentleman.

But it seems she has been destined for a “Northanger Abbey” adventure full of mysterious happenings, unexplained deaths and ghostly specters. With an old mystery to solve, Charlotte and her fellow guests get caught up in the excitement of searching for clues, but when she discovers what seems to be an actual dead body in a secret room, Charlotte has a hard time separating what’s supposed to be part of the Austenland mystery from what’s actually happening. Charlotte knows that everyone at Pembroke Park is playing a role of some kind, but she’s certain that someone’s Regency persona might just be hiding a murderous disposition.

And just as Catherine Moreland, the heroine of “Northanger Abbey,” Charlotte is determined to uncover the truth behind the mystery, whether it’s real or just a part of the game; and maybe along the way, she can find a Mr. Tilney and her own happy ending.

“Midnight in Austenland” has the same setting and a few of the secondary characters from Hale’s 2007 book and soon to be a major motion picture “Austenland,” but it stands entirely on its own. Hale has filled her book with humor, dramatic intrigue, romance, and mysterious happenings. It’s an entertaining tale with a hefty dose of Jane Austen and a bit of Agatha Christie with an ending sure to satisfy fans of both.

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