Wednesday 10 April 2013

Book review : Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale

*** Don't miss my giveaway where you can win both Austenland books ! ***

Yesterday, I posted my review of Austenland, the first of Shannon Hale's witty chicklit novels set in a fake Regency-period manor house designed to allow modern women to indulge in their romantic Jane Austen-inspired fantasies. As I mentioned, I continued straight on with the second tome, entitled Midnight in Austenland, and I've already finished it !

The lead character from the first novel has now gone back to her real life in New York so we are introduced to a new leading lady, ready to immerse herself in a couple of weeks of olde-worlde escapism. Meet Charlotte Kinder, so nice that you'd be forgiven for wanting to give her a slap! Or maybe a hug and a reminder that she should put herself first for a change. So nice that her husband made sure she signed over half of her business before he walked out on her.

Unsurprisingly, she's not on the lookout for romance - she's well and truly off men after her experiences - but she does rather like indulging in another Austenesque fantasy, namely a bit of gothic murder-mystery. She nevertheless has a would-be suitor scripted in for her stay - it wouldn't be Austenland without one ! - in the form of the smouldering, rather wild-looking Mr Mallery, who manages to make her heart flutter in spite of herself.

Charlotte uses her stay at Pembrook Park to reaffirm herself and discover that she is so much more than a heartsore divorcee and downtrodden mum (or mom, as she's American). The exploration of the murder-mystery genre and gothic style of writing brings a whole new level to the novel that the first episode didn't have, so it isn't just more of the same-old-same-old. It does frequently descend into rather trite clich├ęs, but this is done on purpose, as it is the scripted adventures put on by Pembrook Place that rather lack in originality, not the novel itself. It's when things go off the rails and the dividing line between real life and make-belive starts getting blurred that the excitement mounts.

I was really pleased to rediscover Miss Charming, the effervescent character from the first novel, and Mrs Wattlebrook, the stand-offish owner of the house and creator of the crazy world of Austenland. There are several new characters who inject some new interest and the book works perfectly as a standalone novel, even if you haven't read the first book.

The ending did seem a bit too good to be true for my liking - I was hoping for a bit more realism - but this is chick lit so what do you expect?!

If I've piqued your interest and made you want to find out more about Austenland, don't go away - I have a giveaway coming up in a moment where you can win both Austenland novels.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (28 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408840154
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408840153
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : Austenland - Shannon Hale

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