Anyone who knows me knows that I am insatiably (sp?) obsessed with everything Austen. So, when I heard about Shannon Hale's Austenland on NPR a few months ago, I just had to check it out. It's a hysterical, quick read and I think will be much appreciated by anyone who loves the BBC miniseries. There is apparently, according to Ms. Hale, a contingency out there completely appalled at her seeming "attack" on Austen-ites, but I really saw it as a tribute to Austen and her fans. Hale's main character sets off to England to partake in her distant rich relation's parting gift to her -- three weeks at Austenland, a fantasy world where Austenites dress up and live as the Regency English would have and live out their favorite Austen storylines.
On the flip side, anyone who appreciates Austen should most definitely skip Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, which is just pure smut and devoid of any wit. To be sure, there are passages in there that are just laugh-out-loud funny -- as my summer traveling companions can attest to as they often witnessed my chuckling outbursts -- but it's about as satisfying a sequel as Alexandra Ripley's Scarlett is to Gone With the Wind (i.e., wholly incredible, superficial and lacking the depth of the original). Standing alone, Berdoll's attempt at a Bennett-Darcy sequel is a decent summer romance read -- light and ridiculous. As a tribute to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice? A complete failure.