Will the Reality of Mr. Darcy Live Up to the Fantasy?
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Jane Hayes is on a mission to disband, disillusion, and disconnect herself from Mr. Darcy. Poor Jane has suffered through a string of unsuccessful relationships, and perhaps her obsession with Mr. Darcy is the reason she isn’t finding the real love she craves. When Jane inherits a three week, all-expenses paid holiday to Pembrook Park, England, she decides to use this opportunity to say adieu to her Mr. Darcy infatuation forever.
Pembrook Park is a country estate in Kent, where guests get to “experience” living in 1816. Mrs. Wattlesbrook and her team of actors and servants are ready to play their parts so clients are able to live out their Regency-inspired fantasies. After a couple days of formal manners, playacting, and pretend, Jane is finding herself unfulfilled and desiring something more real than this land of fiction and pretense. Is the reality of Mr. Darcy not living up to Jane’s fantasy? Will she finally break free from her Darcy obsession? Can she find real love?
I’m so happy I finally had the time (and the excuse to make time)* to reread this novel. It delights me to say that after more than four years and close to two hundred Austenesque novels later, I found Ms. Hale’s frothy and fun tale to be no less enjoyable than when I originally read it! I love how Shannon Hale created this wonderful world, transplanted a Jane Austen Addict in it, and posed the thought-provoking question: Is this what you really desire? I took great pleasure in witnessing Jane’s journey and self-evaluation as she attempted to nix her Darcy-habit, throw in the towel on love, and indulge in a game of dress up. It was a captivating introspection of fantasy verses reality.
Just like in any Jane Austen novel, Ms. Hale did a marvelous job of creating characters that were likable, well-drawn, and eccentric. One of my favorites is Miss Charming with her false British accent “what-what,” “spit spot,” and possessiveness over the male actors! In addition, I loved how except for Jane Hayes, Ms. Hale didn’t reveal the characters’ true identities and personalities until the very end, letting readers experience the uncertainty and mystery Jane felt the whole time. It was a very clever twist!
Want to indulge in a little make believe? Do you fancy dressing up in empire waist gowns, strolling through the shrubberies, falling for a haughty and reserved man in breeches? Looking for something entertaining and hilarious? Perhaps a trip to Austenland is just what you need! Call your travel agent (a.k.a. favorite bookseller) today!