Friday, February 24, 2012
Midnight in Austenland
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?
I have waited a loooong time for a new novel from Shannon Hale (whom I adore) and Midnight in Autenland delivers! Traditionally speaking, I haven't enjoyed her adult novels quite as much as her fantasy/fiction novels, but I was in exactly the right mood for Midnight in Austenland and I loved it.
Shannon Hale's classic wit and gorgeous word-smithing are all in play here and I enjoyed every word of this ride. I laughed constantly and my heart really ached for Charlotte. Divorce (and all its accompanying heartbreak) can be a heavy subject, but Shannon Hale manages it with a deft hand. I felt Charlotte's pain, but I also grew along with her and cheered right along as she regained feelings of self-worth and confidence. And all this happens in the oh-so-fun atmosphere of Austenland - plus murder mystery!
This book is Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Jane Eyre, and about a dozen Agatha Christie novels all rolled into one...written by Shannon Hale! Come on - haven't I convinced you yet? The mystery is fun and intense with several surprises, some of which I saw coming miles away, some of which I didn't. There's just the right amount of romance here, just the right amount of heart, the perfect amount of mystery and suspense, and more than enough laughs. Go read it. (And if you live in Boise you can come borrow it from me :D)
And if you haven't heard the good news, Shannon Hale is releasing another novel later this year! A sequel to Newbery Honor-winning Princess Academy entitled....
Palace of Stone
Comes out August 21st