It is no secret I have a Pride Prejudice problem. So a few months ago someone saw my “I heart Mr Darcy” tote bag and told me about a movie called Austenland. I found it at my library and watched it. I dug a little into it and found it was a story of a single Jane Austen obsessive who takes a trip to spend several days living on estate in England immersed in Jane Austen’s world, completed with suitors (actors) to live out any number of Austenesq scenarios. I know! Right up my alley right? This girl literally gets to escape into her favorite fictional world! I am no reviewer, normally I leave the reviews to my friend Danielle, but I couldn’t resist talking about this movie/book. The premise is too perfect for my blog. I have to say, I really enjoyed the movie. It was silly and over the top, but ultimately sweet and a romantic good time. Gave me that gooey romantic feeling I like from Jane Austen books.
Over the weekend when my bestie and I took a long-awaited trip to Powell’s Bookstore (click here for more info from Books, Vertigo and tea post on Sunday about our trip) and found a used copy of the book written by Shannon Hale. It was only about 190 pages, so it didn’t take long to read. I devoured it. Where the movie over-simplifies Jane as obsessed over the top not job, the book makes her seem a little more grounded. Jane of the movie has her entire apartment decked out in Austen things, including a card-board cut out of Darcy. Jane of the book seems a little more grounded and real to life. She is obsessed with the 1995 BBC mini-series, and partakes in her obsession quietly. I totally get it, Colin Firth is a fox.
It is something she goes back to every time she feels let down in a relationship. She is searching for the feeling that Mr. Darcy gives her when watching the movie. She measures all the men she dates to Darcy, and eventually gives up on men because none fit her Darcy-sized expectations, (I swear I am describing the book and not my own situation.). Her great-aunt tries to help her get out of her fantasy land so she can finally move on and buys her 3 weeks at “Austenland” and Jane calls it. Jane see’s it as her last hooray, calls it immersion therapy and swears to kick the Darcy habit once she is done.
They say never meet your heroes because they are never what you expect, and that is something Jane figures out in her 3 week stay. The time she romanticized so much is actually restricting and boring. She finds herself drawn to the modern side of life by Martin “the gardener”, (Who is played by Bret from Flight of the Conchords in the movie). Jane gets her own whirlwind Austen love triangle, and honestly the movie pulled off the romance slightly better than the book.
I love the idea of being able to live in your fictional world, even for a little bit. I also really enjoy that it doesn’t turn how it is expected. I love Jane being grounded back to reality when she gets bored with reading novels, embroidery and the societal rules. It is fun to go and pretend, but it is important not to live there.
It was completely a message I needed to hear, because I too suffer from book boyfriend syndrome, although Darcy is my book husband he means more to me than just a mere boyfriend.
It’s not fair to compare real people to fake ones. Is it fair to hold these men to a higher standard based on a man completely made up by a woman? Is there men out there really like the ones we read about? I’d like to think that there is, but I’m probably just setting myself up for disappointment.
BUT I do think this book-boyfriend mentality is the root behind a major writing trope these days. There are so many books out now where the “regular” girl gets together with that handsome, successful and perfect guy. I put quotes around regular, because we tend to find out she’s not so regular. She can do anything she tries the first time and her biggest fault is something adorable, like she trips a lot. He’s always mysterious and holds some dark secret that only she can get him to reveal. We all read it and picture that we are the “regular” girl who gets swept away by the handsome scoundrel. The problem is, and this was Jane’s problem, is when we start expecting real life to live up to fictional life.
Of course it’s never going to live up because it is designed to make you feel good and be exactly what you want. That is not real life and we need to let people be themselves. Who knows, maybe real life will turn out better than our fictional worlds. I for one am going to keep escaping to my fictional worlds, but only temporarily. I will not live there and will (try really hard) not expect people to be fantasies.
While it is fun to escape into fictional worlds, we cannot forget to actually live our lives.