In her first novel for adults, Newbery Honor Medalist Hale (Princess Academy ) puts an intriguing twist on Austenmania by writing about a Jane Austen fantasy camp tailor-made for Colin Firth obsessives looking for their very own Mr. Darcy. Jane Hayes has the history of bad experiences with men typical of all chick-lit heroines, so she's resigned herself to a life of clandestine viewings of Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version, of course). Her wealthy Aunt Carolyn discovers her obsession and leaves Jane a fascinating bequest: a trip to Pembrook Park, a Regency-themed retreat where actors play out women's romantic fantasies. Jane adopts the identity of Miss Jane Erstwhile, dons her corset and gown, and experiences life as a Regency lady. She falls for a gardener--a big no-no at the camp--while also finding herself strangely attracted to cranky, distant Mr. Nobley. The hijinks that follow are entertaining if predictable (especially for P&P Austen fans). An amusing trifle likely to please chick-lit readers and Austen aficionados who enjoy modern twists on the author's classic tales.--Nanette Donohue, Champaign P.L., IL[Page 72]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
In 32-year-old singleton Jane Hayes's mind, no man in the world can measure up to Fitzwilliam Darcyâ€"specifically the Fitzwilliam played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice . Jane is forced to confront her Austen obsession when her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her an all-expenses-paid vacation to Pembrook Park, a British resort where guests live like the characters in Jane's beloved Austen novels. Jane sees the trip as an opportunity for one last indulgence of her obsession before she puts it "all behind herâ€"Austen, men, fantasies, period," but the lines between reality and fiction become pleasantly blurred as Jane acclimates to the world of Spencer jackets and stringent etiquette rules, and finds herself torn between the Darcyesque Mr. Nobley and a forbidden tryst with Pembrook Park's gardener. Though the narrative is endlessly charming, Jane is convincing neither as a sarcastic single girl nor as a romantic idealist, and the supporting cast is underdeveloped. Nods to Austen are abundant in contemporary women's fiction, and an intriguing setup and abundant wit are not enough to make this one stand out. (June)[Page 59]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-- Thirty-three-year-old Jane Hayes, who has a fairly serious addiction to the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice , inherits a trip to Pembrook Park, Kent, England, the location of a resort where guests dress, talk, think, and act in ways that Jane Austen would approve. Refusing to lie about her age, even on vacation in a place right out of Austen's England, Jane finds herself quickly overcoming the obsession with Mr. Darcy that may very well have jeopardized her 13 "relationships" over the years. Left to walk in last to dinner, mildly obsessed with one of the hotel's gardeners, and annoyed by another guest's overeager attempts to bag a man, Jane is eager to return to Manhattan. Then she decides to give it all one more chance, since Great-Aunt Carolyn did see fit to pay for the entire vacation. Hale does a lovely job with the tale of a single woman who would appreciate a genuine shot at love. The book is well written, quite readable, and the myriad characters, especially those working at the resort, are quirkily funny. Given the immense popularity of Jane Austen's novels among teen girls, this book definitely has cross-over appeal.--Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA[Page 179]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.