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A Reader of Fictions: Keep Your Wig On - Lesley Barber

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Keep Your Wig On - Lesley Barber

Midnight in Austenland
Austenland, Book 2

Author: Shannon Hale
Pages: 272
ARC Acquired from: Bloomsbury via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Charlotte Kinder has never been the heroine of her own life. The word people most commonly use to describer her is 'nice,' which everyone knows is synonymous with boring, if not accompanied by more scintillating adjectives. Apparently, 'nice' is not enough to keep a husband from cheating on Charlotte, once she discovers her cleverness and becomes exceedingly rich. Of course, that same rat fink of a husband was clever enough to convince her to have a joint account before divorcing her. What Charlotte really needs is a vacation. Having recently taken solace in the novels of Jane Austen, she decides to travel to England for two weeks at Austenland.

In Austenland, Hale played with the characters of Pride and Prejudice, a rather obvious place to start, what with P&P's popularity. Honestly, I was disappointed by Austenland. Hale is one of my favorite authors, because of the originality of her characters and the...honesty of her stories. Austenland read like any Jane Austen spinoff, but I wanted it to be special. Plus, as an Austen-obsessed girl myself, I somewhat wonder whether nurturing our desires for a hero is a wise course.

With that knowledge, I came to this one with slightly lowered expectations. Expecting just a fun Austen-inspired romp, I was pleased with the results. I was not, however, astounded by its quality. This series does not rank anywhere near the Bayern books or The Actor and the Housewife. However, they are fun little guilty pleasures for those who like to think they may get a hero of their own someday.

I definitely liked this one better. For one thing, the novel Hale primarily drew her inspiration from for this one is Northanger Abbey, which is warring with P&P to be my personal favorite. The opening lines and the gothic content, perfectly mirror Northanger Abbey, although the murder mystery and the hero are quite changed.

There is not much Northanger Abbey inspired fiction out there, largely because Catherine is a less interesting heroine. Like Catherine, Charlotte does not have the makings of a heroine. She also has the tendency to let her imagination carry her away. However, Charlotte is much more mature than Catherine, both in age and intelligence. Charlotte is capable of some serious business acumen. Actually, this was one of the weak points of the novel, since the character of Charlotte seemed to switch back and forth between the brainless heroine and the logical, clever woman. The two parts of her character did not mingle well, and she seemed rather more like two women or like she has identity dissociative disorder, a suspicion enhanced by her constant discussions with her Inner Thoughts.

The romance herein is not a sweep the reader of her feet vicariously kind of deal. That works here, I think, even if it's not as exciting necessarily. The right decisions were made for the characters. Nor was the end result surprising, at least to me. Once the characters were assembled, I wondered what I would have done as an author, and I was right. High-fiving a million angels.

Rating: 3/5

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Blogger Nori said...

I got this ARC in June, and still haven't read it. Kind of felt the same way you did about the first one. But, this review makes me want to read it now. And I also love Hale's stuff for YA. So I will give this a go eventually. Thanks for the head's up!

February 4, 2012 at 10:33 PM  

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