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#18 Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

With a happy marriage, two children, and a successful business, Charlotte Kinder’s life is near perfect. Then she discovers that her husband has been cheating on her. One divorce and several unsuccessful dates later, Charlotte’s life is far from perfect. The one place she finds solace is in the books of Jane Austen. So when her children leave for a two week vacation with their father, Charlotte decides to take a vacation too. She travels to Penbrook Park, a country manor that promises to offer the authentic Jane Austen experience, complete with Regency style dress and food, and a handsome suitor. Then Charlotte finds a body, leading her to wonder what’s part of the game, and what’s real.

I first read Shannon Hale’s Austenland back when it was published in 2007. Despite not having much of a taste for Jane Austen-spin offs (although I do enjoy her novels), I found myself falling in love with the book. So when I heard that a companion book was in the works, I eagerly awaited it’s publication. Similar to Austenland, Midnight in Austenland is about a Jane Austen-obsessed woman with romantic problems. Both books tell of their adventures in Penbrook Park, combined with flashbacks to the protagonists’ past. Each woman finds finds romance and personal strength, all while taking part in the ultimate Jane Austen LARPing experience.

After reading Midnight in Austenland, I have to admit that I did not find is to be quite as enjoyable as Austenland, although the experience overall was quite positive. The novel is filled with giggle-enduing humor, as well as a colorful cast of likable characters (“Miss Charming” from Austenland makes a triumphant return). One issue I had is I didn’t find Charlotte to be as likable as a heroine as Jane, but I enjoyed watching her grow and develop into a stronger character. Also, there were times when her awkward nature could be endearing. I found that the romance this time around wasn’t quite as satisfying as in Austenalnd, but I ended up liking it a lot more than I suspected I would. The Murder Mystery plot line does a pretty good job of setting Midnight in Austenland apart from it’s prequel. One thing I found interesting in Midnight in Austenland was how often the line between the roles that the visitors and actors of Penbrook Park had to play and the people behind the role playing was blurred. This also added well to the mystery storyline, as you could never be sure what was part of the game, and what was real.

Although Midnight in Austland can’t measure up to Austenland, it remains an enjoyable novel filled with great humor and a sweet romantic storyline. I’m happy I decided to pick this up. If anything, it got me excited for the Austenalnd movie which just completed filming.

Rating: four stars
Length: 288 pages
Source: Lewiston Public Library
Other books I've read by this author: The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, Princess Academy, Austenland, Book of a Thousand Days, Rapunzel's Revenge, Calamity Jack

Next I will be reviewing The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish, and goodreads
Tags: author: h, genre: romance, review
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