Friday, July 13, 2012
Book Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Author: Shannon Hale
Enjoyment Rating: **
Source: Kindle for iPad
Books I've read this year: 82
One of the things I find interesting about Shannon Hale is that her young adult fiction feels much more highbrow than her fiction for adults. All of the adult-market novels she's written have been escapist romances (two set in Austenland and one where Brad Pitt falls in love with a housewife, basically) while her middle grade/YA books (like The Goose Girl) are rich in symbolism and descriptive language. Because I knew this about Hale's books going into reading Midnight in Austenland, I was expecting escapist romance, and not anything nuanced or complicated. I was not expecting the heroine of the story, recently divorced Charlotte Kinder, to turn into Angela Lansbury and start solving a murder. But that's what happened. The book deviated from being a romance and became a mystery-cum-romance.
I don't know if it was the company at my house or the book, but I had a really hard time getting caught up in Midnight in Austenland. I know that Shannon Hale's Austenland wasn't all that well-received when it was published in 2008, but I thought the book was kind of sweet; it was definitely a page-turner. But this time I found myself skimming. For at least a hundred pages I wasn't even sure who Charlotte's romantic interest would be. I think that move was purposeful on Hale's part-- Charlotte needed to know herself and become comfortable with herself as a single person before she could open her eyes and fall in love again, but that made the love story, when it did happen, feel a bit rushed.
Maybe if this book had caught me in a different, less rushed, time of my life, I could have gotten wrapped up in the story, but I felt that this was one where the reader really had to work at enjoying the romance of the story.