“To read fiction means to play a game by which we give sense to the immensity of things that happened, are happening, or will happen in the actual world. By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. This is the consoling function of narrative — the reason people tell stories, and have told stories from the beginning of time.”
― Umberto Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods
Since I was a young girl, I could lose myself in a film or television show that made me forget what was happening in the real world. Visiting Disneyland never tires me; walking through those gates and escaping reality is more than just thrilling -- I feel at home.
You might think that this is escapism, and that it isn't healthy. You may or may not be right.
One particular form of escapism that I thoroughly enjoy, and that in which I have and hope to continue to take pleasure, is reading. From Harry Potter to The Princess Diaries, I have always enjoyed escaping my non-magical, non-royal life to indulge my imagination. Of course, I've often found myself wishing I could be part of the worlds I read about -- a witch studying at Hogwarts or a plane-Jane-turned-Princess.
Apparently, I'm not the only one that wishes this could happen. I recently picked up a book by Shannon Hale at my local used bookstore chain, Book Off, as they were having a 3 Novels for 99 cents sale. I can never resist a good book sale (even if my stack of books that I need to read reaches the ceiling -- and it does), so throughout the course of the month-long sale, I visited Book Off often. The title of one book caught my eye: Austenland. I read the back and became intrigued. The modern-day heroine is dropped in a Jane Austen resort? It's like escapism to the max. I dropped it in my basket -- even if it completely sucked, at least I only paid 33 cents for it.
I read it after reading What's Your Number (quite amusing read and slightly different from the movie), and finished it in one day -- couldn't put it down. It's actually unfair, really, that the book had to end. So I looked online and found a sequel of sorts: Midnight in Austenland. I got it from Amazon and just finished reading it.
If you haven't read the books and are into the kind of stuff in which you take a modern-day heroine and plop her into a historical or fictional world where she finds the love of her life, then this is PERFECT for you. It's the kind of books I can read over and over again. (Other than the Harry Potter series, the only other book I can say that has this distinct honor is Avalon High by Meg Cabot. The modern-day heroine was dropped into Arthurian legend. Kind of.)
Except... While I really loved the book, I found myself wishing Austenland was REAL. And I'm not even an Austen freak! These books have made me itching to watch the Austenland movie that just came out, to (finally) watch the two movie versions of Pride and Prejudice and to reread my two favorite Austen novels -- which, coincidentally, are the two classics in which the two Austenland books are based: Austenland follows Pride and Prejudice and Midnight in Austenland follows Northanger Abbey.
So, in order to escape my desire to gush about every little thing about the two novels here, I'll instead try to find those movies on Amazon and dream of men and cravats.