February 21, 2012

Book Review: Midnight In Austenland

In Midnight in Austenland, Shannon Hale returns to the world of Austenland with a wonderful new heroine. Nice, kind, clever Charlotte Kinder is still reeling from the dissolution of her marriage and turns to Jane Austen for comfort. When her kids visit their father, she decides to take a summer vacation to England and hits upon Austenland--a resort where one goes to wear corsets and empire gowns, flirt modestly with gentlemen, stroll about the gardens and live like Elizabeth Bennet for two weeks.

Now known as Mrs. Charlotte Cordial (dashing widow), Charlotte is soon lost in the Regency world. Maids wait upon her, her "brother" Eddie is a great chum, and the brooding Mr. Mallery sets her pulses fluttering. Then, one night, Charlotte is convinced she stumbled upon a dead body in a secret room. No one else believes her, and the next morning there's no sign of a body. Charlotte is torn: Did she imagine the whole thing? Or did she really touch a dead body? If so, who was it, and who is the murderer?

Like Catherine in Northanger Abbey, Charlotte begins her own research. Hale makes Charlotte's mix of naiveté and cleverness completely believable as she fumbles her way through an investigation of sorts, and the reader can't help but root for the likable and funny Charlotte to solve the mystery and find her own true love.

I realized just too late that I should've included this in my Books About Love round up! I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book, and I think just about anyone would. Austen-lovers will especially adore the characters who are similar to familiar types from Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and the almost tongue-in-cheek aspect of the mystery (which is much like Northanger Abbey). Plus Charlotte's internal dialogue is downright hilarious, and Hale has a wonderful way with words that makes this a must-read.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure!

Have you read any of Shannon Hale's other books? 
Do you have constant conversation with your Inner Thoughts?

I originally wrote this review for Shelf Awareness. The book cover image is an Amazon affiliate link.