In an effort to repent of my smart-alecky remark about people who won't read sci-fi or fantasy, I decided to write about my deep and abiding love of Jane Austen books. I didn't read any Jane Austen until I had college roommates who wouldn't stop talking about Mr. Darcy. Talking or swooning, depending on the mood. I got sick of it and decided they must all be crazy people speaking some weird language. A few years ago, before the big film version of Pride and Prejudice came out, I decided it was about time I read me some Austen. Oh my. It was lovely. Now I knew what the crazy roommates were swooning about. So funny! So beautiful! Such characters!
I've stopped mocking those who love Mr. Darcy. I can see why they do. I can see why people read Jane Austen's books over and over again, why they keep making movies of the books, why there are books written about people who read Jane Austen's books. Wow, circular. I still haven't seen the pure versions of film adaptations of the books. I know, I'm not a true fan until I've seen Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I'll get to it, I promise.
Speaking of true fans, I read "Austenland" by Shannon Hale this last week. Shannon Hale who wrote the Newberry Honor winning "Princess Academy" and the very good "The Goose Girl". I had so many different people suggest I read this book that I can't even remember who all they are, therefore nobody gets any credit. I'm no respector of persons that way. It's about 33-year-old graphic artist Jane, who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy. Specifically, Colin Firth's version of Mr. Darcy. She's had a bad string of relationships, outlined in summary at the beginning of each chapter, and the only man for her is Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth. Her great-aunt, on her death, wills her a trip to an exclusive Austen-esque resort in England, where women can go make-believe they live in that time in total cultural absorption. Any violation of the rules can get you sent packing, like having a cell phone in your possession or violating codes of conduct from that time period. Jane goes thinking that it'll finally put her obsession to rest after completely purging it from her system and then she can successfully swear off men forever. Yeah, right.
Yes, it's a romantic tale. She does meet several yummy specimens while there. It's also pretty funny and I think relatable. Who hasn't been in love with some unattainable version of the opposite sex? I have to admit, I had a little thing for Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo in the film version of "Romeo and Juliet" many years back. I'm not proud of it, but it happened. I got over it after "Titanic" was so abyssmal.
All in all, a very fun read and since there's lots of Jane Austen fans out there, I think it will be found in book clubs everywhere. Let the swooning commence!