by Shannon Hale
Welcome to Austenland!
Oh, wait, let's back it up a bit. We won't get to Austenland until Chapter 4.
Jane Hayes, a thirty-something single New Yorker, is lost in love stories. Obsessed with the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice, Jane is looking for her very own Mr. Darcy. Luckily for her, Jane's rich Great-Aunt Carolyn leaves Jane a very special present when she dies: a vacation to an exclusive resort in England. Called Pembrook Park, this resort lets people dress in Regency period clothes, play whist and croquet, and flirt. In other words, it's Austenland.
Okay, let's try this again.
Welcome to Austenland!
Austenland's prideful and particular proprietress, Mrs. Wattlesbrook, welcomes Jane to the place. She quizzes her on the customs of the day, dresses her in 19th-century garb, and confiscates all of her technology. Well, except her phone; sneaky Jane stashes her cell phone in a secret hiding place.
Among the guests of Pembrook Park are two ladies, Miss Charming and Miss Heartwright, and three studly gentlemen: Colonel Andrews, Major East, and Pembrook Park's very own Darcy, Mr. Nobley.
And who do you think Jane picks for her first-choice suitor at Austenland? If you said "Nobley," well, you're wrong. Jane goes for the gardener, Theodore, who is actually a man named Martin Jasper. On her walks through the garden, Jane stumbles across Martin's cabin, and he invites her in to watch TV. You know, "watch TV," by which he means catch a little of the basketball match between some long makeout sessions.
Their fling is short-lived, however. Martin is unable to get past the fact that Jane is one of the foolish women of Austenland, pretending to be a Regency dame and alla that.
So Jane shifts her focus to Mr. Nobley. The two engage in verbal sparring matches and trade witticisms à la Lizzy and Darcy (from Pride and Prejudice). Near the end of Jane's stay, the group puts on a play. Jane and Mr. Nobley are cast to play lovers and, surprising no one, fall in love for realz. Unfortunately, by this point, Jane believes that everyone is messing with her, so she rejects him.
Instead, Jane reunites with Martin and decides to stay in England for a few days after leaving Pembrook Park. That is, until Mrs. Wattlesbrook reveals that she orchestrated the entire thing. Martin was an actor, too, paid to seduce Jane. That cad. (We're in England, remember?)
Heartbroken, Jane flees to the airport. Martin chases after her to apologize, but she's not having it. Then, Mr. Nobley shows up, to assure Jane that his love for her is genuine. The two men engage in not-so-gentlemanly fisticuffs and Jane boards her plane.
But she can't fly away from love that easily. Nobley, whose real name is Henry Jenkins, boards the plane and gives Jane the kind of love-struck proclamation that only happens in romance novels. Since Jane will only be satisfied by the kind of love that happens in romance novels, his heart-felt speech woos our Jane straight off her feet. They fly back to New York together and everything is perfect forever.