Friday, September 4, 2009
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
From the publisher:
"After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?"
I believe this is the type of book that readers will have polar opposite reactions -- you're either going to love it or find it full of flaws. I want to say that I thought the premise of the book was truly interesting -- what a fascinating concept to have a twenty-first century modern woman (Courtney Stone) wake up and discover that she is inhabiting the body of a Regency era maiden (Jane Mansfield - yes, really) who has just suffered a head injury during a horse riding accident. As Courtney slowly gains consciousness, she believes she is living in some type of dream state as her surroundings are obviously not modern. When time passes and she realizes that this is not a dream-state, that she has somehow experienced a type of time travel, she tentatively takes her place in the household and attempts to play the role of the daughter, hoping that somehow she will discover how she managed to be in Regency England and if it is possible to return to her former life.
What was truly difficult to understand was the snide and rude behavior of the protagonist. When in her own time, Courtney turned to the writings of Jane Austen for pleasure and comfort and considers herself a Jane Austen addict. If that were true, she would have had an underlying understanding of the expectations of society and the vastly different cultural traditions and norms. Instead, as she takes part in the Mansfield household and interacts with family friends, she is forever making inane and flip comments about women's rights, the role of men and women in society, servants' rights, and other ridiculous remarks. I suppose these were meant to be witty, but it made the character so contentious that it completely detracted from what could have been a great storyline. There are also several situations and references that I can only describe as crude and tasteless. While Courtney's journey of self-discovery does lead her to a greater level of maturity at the end, the reader does not completely learn the mystery of the time travel. I assume it is necessary to read the next book, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (which is the parallel experience of Jane Mansfield finding herself in Courtney's twenty-first century world) in order to learn how and why the time travel occurs.
I wish I had a more positive view of the book, but I have to call 'em like I see 'em, and this is one that I had too many issues with to recommend. It had the potential to be a fun and interesting read, but somehow it totally missed the mark.
Title: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler