Midnight in Austenland

Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-60819-625-8
Hale sends another lovelorn American to Jane Austen fantasy camp in this gothic-tinged follow-up to Austenland. A year after her messy divorce, Charlotte Kinder buries herself in her job, her children, and her beloved Austen novels, but moving on feels impossible. When friends suggest a vacation, Charlotte’s travel agent has just the thing: a trip to Pembrook Park, a proper English estate in Kent where guests and staff immerse themselves in Regency customs and culture. At first the estate feels “more like a Terry Gilliam movie than a Masterpiece Theatre episode,” but once settled, Charlotte plays parlor games, learns country dances, and even lets herself be courted by her assigned suitor, the brooding, magnetic Mr. Mallery. Her vacation becomes more Northanger Abbey when the guests visit a Gothic ruin and uncover a centuries-old mystery. After Charlotte catches a fleeting glimpse of a dead body in a secret room, she’s not quite sure if it’s part of the game or there’s a real murderer lurking. Though a tacked-on romance and some flimsy plot twists strain credibility, Hale’s fans will be thrilled to revisit Pembrook Park and reunite with its regulars. Hale provides a welcome, witty glimpse of a side of Austen rarely explored in the many contemporary riffs on her work. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Release date: 01/31/2012
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FORMATS
Open Ebook - 978-1-60819-640-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4640-3816-7
Paperback - 279 pages - 978-1-59691-289-2
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-4088-4015-3
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4088-4016-0
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