I recently read Shannon Hale's Midnight in Austenland, published in 2012. While it didn't grab me and hold me hostage until the end the way some books do, it was a pleasant read, with some mildly exciting parts.
The novel centers around the adventures of Charlotte Kinder, a newly divorced, thirty something mother of two. Although a successful businesswoman, her divorce blindsides her and shatters her confidence.
While her children are visiting their father and his new wife, she spends a weekend reading through the novels of Jane Austen and is hooked. When, at the advice of a friend, she decides to take a vacation, she stumbles across the opportunity to spend several weeks at an exclusive English resort called Pembroke Park. The guests and staff all dress up in Victorian attire, and play roles relating to a manor house party. Charlotte decides that is exactly the kind of distraction that she needs, and sets off to lose herself in Austenland.
On arrival, she is fascinated by the period details, and the determination of all to remain in character. She discerns quickly that the dark and dashing, Mr. Mallery, is scripted to be her love interest during her stay. Soon she begins to wonder if he can also fill that role when her time at Pembroke Park is done.
A mystery party game begins to turn all too real one night, when Charlotte is certain that she has found a human body in the pitch, dark attic. When no one will take her seriously, she tries to dismiss her fears, but much like the heroine in a Gothic tale, cannot.
Events take a decidedly sinister turn when twice attempts are made on her life, first by Mr. Mallery, and then her timid maid. An unexpected hero shows up to save Charlotte, and the day.
Readers will be glad to know that all is sorted out in the end. True love is found, and the characters all live happily ever after.
While I wouldn't call this book a 'must read', it is a good light read, perfect for times when one can't get into a book with a heavy plot. I did enjoy the impressions of a twenty-first century character thrust into an illusion of the nineteenth.