When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?
The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end? ( synopsis from B&N.com)
Bloomsbury, Hardcover, 272 pages
Charlotte Kinder’s marriage has gone kaput and she starts reading Jane Austen as a diversion. Her two children are spending their vacation with their father and his new wife so Charlotte decides to go on her own vacation. She ends up going to England and being part of a reenactment type of trip located at Pembrook Park, a stately home. Reborn as Charlotte Cordial, a widow, she embarks on her adventure. She is one of six guests and is matched with Mr. Mallery, a moody but hunky gentleman.
As part of the entertainment, the three couples are part of a mystery involving a long ago event at a local abbey, and parts of the story are doled out over several nights. Unfortunately for Charlotte, it suddenly becomes all too real for her and she is left wondering what is really happening at Pembrook Park. Who can she rely on for help?
I always have wanted to go on one of these Austen trips so the whole premise of this book intrigued me. Charlotte is an interesting character, not the typical dumpee. She has a successful business and seems to be a pretty intelligent woman who ignored the signs that her marriage was imploding. On her vacation she has the typical reactions one would being in a strange country, acting out another period of time, and finding oneself in the middle of something very unsettling. The mystery factor is ramped up in this book and the romance takes a back seat but still has a satisfying conclusion. Ms. Hale solves an obvious problem with a simple but effective plot twist so all can end well. I enjoyed the first book in the series and this one was just as good.