Another trip down to Austenland takes a curious turn from an expected romance world to a murder mystery à la Agatha Christie, which is of course an expected outcome since we, the reader, are informed from the beginning that our heroine is a fan of the beloved crime writer as well as Ms. Austen.
This time around Mrs. Cordial (Charlotte Kinder) – our heroine – seeks an escapist world of Austenland as a means to cure her broken heart from a divorce. At first, I must say, I was quite sympathetic with Charlotte. I’ve raised my hopes high, anticipating that an experienced woman, an entrepreneur, a mother of two, and though sadly a “first” wife – will be a breath of fresh air and will turn out to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman at the end (“The First Wives Club” anyone?). Alas, as the novel progressed I found myself irritated with the lack of growth this character made and the convenient conclusion.
Charlotte was chaotic, stupid, irresponsible, and simply acted like a teenager herself (while being a mother of a teenager). I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her hard out of her stupor over being in love with Edie – the woman practically had a meltdown, when she realized she had kids who awaited her home and thus could not spend more time to continue this farce.
I found it perhaps charming the first time around the way Ms. Hale moved the plot of Austenland #1 along – the conclusion was welcomed and appropriate. Jane, even though ended up with a happy ending – had managed to rid herself of her unhealthy Mr. Darcy fascination; but one has to wonder whether the editor was half asleep while reading Austenland #2 – it felt “draft-y”. After it was revealed who the murderer was – I half expected the novel to end, but strange enough – my Kindle showed another 20-something percent remained. “What else can possibly extend the plot of this novel further?” – I wondered.Well, dear reader, apparently one can have added a few more repetitive scenes to keep this going; that is if you didn’t get what was going on before. It felt like being hit with the same brick over and over again. I wanted to scream: “I get it – our murderer is crazy. Let’s move on already!”
We finally reached the conclusion and a mandatory happy ending conveniently worked itself out. Our heroine lost her head completely and readily moved her kids, work, life to a different continent to live the happily-ever-after with her “pseudo” prince charming (or is it Mr. Darcy?) – a now-sober alcoholic, who plays dress-up for a living. We all shall be so lucky. Naturally, the fairy tale took place after the oh-so-witty conversation with one’s Inner Thoughts (that were a plenty throughout the novel as well), and decided to “responsibly” run away without saying good bye to the man she loves. But, of course, - no judging.
So there, Mrs. Cordial got her fairy tale. Austenland out.