Synopsis according to Goodreads:
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?“
Midnight in Austenland is the follow-up to Austenland, which I loved. It takes place in Pembrook Park, but with mostly new characters. Where the first book was primarily Pride & Prejudice influenced, this one is mainly Northanger Abbey. Which is lovely, as gothic romances are out and out fun.
Hale continues to supply fun characters, though I found Charlotte less exciting than Jane. Charlotte is newly divorced, and her entire life has been about meeting other people’s expectations, turning her disappointment with her life into self-degredation.
It makes her a bit of a frustrating character, but I suppose that’s because (having been through that, myself) I keep waiting for her to LIVE. Thankfully, she does get there, and the journey is fraught with fun in an entirely different light than Austenland was. Here, the mystery is primary, the romance secondary.
Also, the language was third- Charlotte being less an Austenite than Jane was, and that pushed me out of the joy of Pembrook Park a bit.
I still recommend it for fans of Austen references, gothic horror, contemporary chick lit mystery and romance, those that prefer different kinds of love in a romance (aside from the usual exciting/crush kind), and fans of Shannon Hale.
And still I ask….is Pembrook Park real? I’m still eager to work there- I’ll be a maid, no problem. Or a cook. Whatever. Just put me in a pelisse!