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Review: "An American in Austen" Is the Best of Hallmark Channel's Four Loveuary Movies Celebrating Jane Austen

An American in Austen is a creative spin on the famous Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice. The story is about a librarian who falls asleep in a taxi and wakes up in a carriage in 1813 after wishing on a shooting star for her own Mr. Darcy.

An American in Austen Challenges the Idealization of Romantic Relationships

Harriet is a librarian by day and aspiring novelist after hours. Like so many Hallmark heroines, she is experiencing the angst of writer's block and desperately needs some inspiration. It's a stale movie trope, but the originality of what follows compensates for it.

Ethan, Harriet's boyfriend of three years, surprises her with a very romantically executed proposal. Her answer is "maybe." Harriet is so enamored with Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy that real life can't compare. Ethan is a loving, kind, reliable man who adores her, but since their relationship doesn't feel magical, she questions her love for him.

Harriet's wish for Mr. Darcy does more than land her back in the early 19th century--she finds herself in the middle of the book, Pride and Prejudice. The Bennett family thinks she's their American cousin. The story initially follows Austen's plot perfectly, until Mr. Darcy falls in love with Harriet instead of Elizabeth. At this point, the story falls apart, and Harriet has to maneuver circumstances to get the book back on track so it can conclude as it should.

Mrs. Bennett's singular focus is on marrying off her daughters. The family's welfare depends on it, and the dutiful girls approach relationships pragmatically, often "not afforded the luxury of love."

Despite the way Harriet has romanticized the past, she soon learns that marriages are often arranged and transactional. The eye-opening experience helps her realize how much she does love and appreciate Ethan. She had wanted the perfect man, but such a high standard doesn't exist in the real world--only in fairytales and romance novels. She finally grasps that love isn't about the magic, but about "the moments between the pages." She has had her own Mr. Darcy all along--she just didn't know it.

An American in Austen Has Several Comedic Moments

An American in Austen will make you smile. The humor is integrated naturally and doesn't feel forced like in some romcoms. My favorite line is when Harriet tells Mr. Darcy that he's "hot." She's also mortified when she can't take a shower and can only wash from the basin, grumbling under her breath how that explains the smell--something about the era we don't think about. She has to rent an electric scooter to get to Ethan's place, and she says it is worse than horses.

It's amusing that of all the things Harriet could miss about the 21st century, she misses her phone the most.

The cameo of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is also a fun surprise. She appears as a royal guest at Mr. Bingley's extravagant affair.

An American in Austen Is Not a Dream Sequence

You might question whether Harriet dreams her entire 1813 escapade, since she falls asleep in a taxi, but the writers leave clues to let viewers know she is lucid for the whole thing. First, she returns home with the book Mr. Darcy gives her--Evelina by Francis Burney. It is a book that supposedly inspired Jane Austen. Filled with sensibility, early romanticism, and satire, it is a book that parallels Austen's own style, and it's still in print, if you'd like a copy. See below.

The second clue is that Harriet is still in her 19th century clothing.

The time travel approach is much better that pinning the entire story on a dream. If you watched the TV show Dallas back in the 1980's, you know what I mean. Patrick Duffy played the role of Bobby Ewing. He decided to leave the show for good in 1985, so writers killed off his character. A year later, Duffy returned to the show in an iconic shower scene during the season finale, so viewers had watched an ENTIRE SEASON, only to find out it had all been a dream. I'm still scarred by this 38 years later.

An American in Austen Is the Best Jane Austen-Inspired Loveuary Premiere

Not everyone enjoys period movies, so if that's you, you'll be glad to see Loveuary end. For those of us bookworms who love historical adaptations, here's how I'm ranking the four premieres.

Rating of Hallmark Channel's Loveuary 2024 movies inspired by Jane Austen

First Place: An American in Austen

The script is creative and fun. Harriet lands in the middle of her favorite book, gets to live in the era she has romanticized, meets the cast of characters, and wins Mr. Darcy's heart (though she redirects him to Elizabeth). She overcomes writer's block and turns her experience into a novel (reminds me of the Elf movie) and marries Ethan, too.

Second Place: Paging Mr. Darcy

Will Kemp makes a dashing Mr. Darcy. I love that this movie celebrates the Regency era with all the period trimmings, yet it takes place in the current time, giving us the best of both worlds. It's scholarly, in a fun way, and celebrates Jane Austen at an annual national conference, which actually exists. Eloise and Sam misunderstand and judge each other, just like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but they fall in love just like their fictional predecessors.

Third Place: Love & Jane

The plot is a unique idea conceptually--having the ghost of Jane Austen advise Lilly--but the execution is way off. This movie has far too many contrived scenes that aren't believable. Many are just silly, if not plain dumb. Austen quotes are unnaturally stuffed into the dialogue, and Lilly is weirdly obsessed with them. Even two A-List celebrities, Alison Sweeney and Benjamin Ayres, can't manage to fix this train wreck of a script.

Fourth Place: Sense and Sensibility

This movie is dead in the water. First, Hallmark's Mahogany brand is racist. If Hallmark promoted a brand that celebrated only white people, the outrage would be plastered all over the media. The Mahogany brand isn't "inclusion"--it's racism. Second, the characters in Austen's novel are white. In today's cultural climate, whites are accused of "cultural appropriation" if they wear a Pocohontas costume at Halloween or open a taco eatery. Where is the outcry for black people culturally appropriating the Dashwoods? Third, interracial relationships were not a public thing during the Regency period. This movie is a joke and not worth watching.

What Is Your Favorite Loveuary Premiere?

In the comment section, share which Jane Austen-inspired movie is your favorite.

If you have never read an Austen novel but would like to, you can find her novels here:

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