5 Things To Do Before Seeing ‘Austenland’

by Jessica Bloustein Marshall

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any Darcy-worshipper in possession of a free evening must be in want of a romantic comedy.

Behold, such a thing to fill you with felicity and merriment—”Austenland,” a new rom-com about an average Jane (Keri Russell) with an unhealthy predilection for all things Jane Austen, who takes her obsession to a whole new level when she takes off for a Jane Austen-themed getaway to England. She sets off with an I <3 Mr. Darcy tote bag and high hopes of landing the Mr. Darcy of her dreams.

With “Austenland” hitting select theaters this weekend, here are five things you should do before seeing it.

Watch the BBC “Pride and Prejudice” miniseries
If you haven’t already sat through all six hours of this period masterpiece, clear your schedule immediately. This is the end-all-be-all of Jane Austen adaptations, and your life will be better for having laid your eyeballs upon it. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth (Darcy!!!) lead a cast of notable British character actors in a remarkably faithful adaptation of the book, full of more delicious romantic tension than you can shake a stick at.

Read the book
The movie is based on a book of the same name by Shannon Hale. And while you’re at it, you may want to pick up a few of Jane Austen’s own novels. “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma,” “Sense and Sensibility” and “Persuasion” should be enough to get you started on a path toward understanding just why Keri Russell’s character, Jane, would take this wacky vacation in the first place.

Visit the real-life Austenland
Each year thousands of Austenophiles flock to the small English village of Chawton, where their favorite author penned her famous books and spent her last years. Visit Jane Austen’s House Museum, where you can see the very desk where she created the luscious likes of Mr. Darcy, Edward Ferrars, Mr. Knightley and Captain Wentworth.

Dress in period garb
The elaborately curled up-dos and the empire-waisted gowns of the Regency era were the dress code for Jane’s journey in “Austenland.” Whether you’re a fan of Austen or not, you know you want to wear those frocks and promenade about the grounds of a vast estate. Or go to a ball. We daresay, no one will think you plain at all.

Behold, Giganto Firth
If you can’t find a Mr. Darcy, let us show you one. A few months ago, he was in London’s Hyde Park. He was ginormous. You couldn’t possibly miss him. Though he’s no longer there, we have a feeling he’ll pop back into our lives at some point when we least expect it…

Do you plan to see “Austenland” this weekend?