Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Adult contemporary and historical romance
Book description from Goodreads: When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?
The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?
My thoughts: I admit to being a Shannon Hale fan. I love her YA books, they are my favorite. While I love the YA books, I can only say that I like her adult books.
Charlotte is divorced and struggling to overcome the emotional roadblocks that have been placed in her path by her cheating ex-husband. She begins to wonder if she is unlovable. A wise friend tells her that she should read Jane Austen's books. She does and is instantly enthralled by the classic works. (I can relate, I love Jane Austen!)
Her ex has the kids for a couple of weeks and she takes a much needed vacation. Where is a wealthy divorcee who loves Austen going to go? Austenland, of course. The place where you can act out your Austen fantasies and dress in regency clothing.
In this book Shannon Hales writes with an edge that I don't remember in her other books. Her voice is fun and sarcastic at the same time. I really enjoyed her writing style. I smiled at several of her quirky word choices.
Hale adds a level of suspense and mystery to this novel. This book has romance more as a sub-plot with the focus being on a murder mystery. In several instances the heroine, Charlotte, chides herself on letting her imagination run away with her, just like the heroine in Northanger Abbey.
Charlotte's growth and self confidence soars. She begins to realize that not all of her marital problems centered on her. She becomes less the victim and more the heroine. She learns to take charge of her life and not let her life been engulfed by her business and keeping her children away from heartache.
While I enjoyed this novel, it fell a little flat for me in a few places. I liked, but not loved, the romance. I do, however, recommend the book to anyone who wishes they could live out their fantasies as a member of one of Jane Austen's books.
This book does contain mild swearing.