Saturday, June 5, 2010
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler
This book was lying in an obscure corner of a shelf containing among other books a collection of plays by Sophocles. "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict" seemed to beam up at me in its curly reds begging me to pick it up.
Courtney Stone, present day LA city girl wakes up one fine day in Regency England or more clearly Jane Austen's England in the body of Jane Mansfield and Courtney is instantly thrown headlong into the life of the gentry circa 1813. Jane Mansfield, thirty years old and in grave danger of going permanently "on the shelf" has an icy, over-bearing mother Mrs. M who is hell bent on getting her married to Charles Edgeworth, a wealthy widower who has just moved into the neighborhood. Into this life, Courtney finds herself involuntarily thrust into and she must learn the ways of a lady in Regency England or pay the price of being declared insane and committed to an asylum as Mrs. M threatens her. How does Courtney cope with Jane's life and Charles's attentions? Is Charles really as honorable as he seems? Like the book's synopsis says, is he Darcy, Wickham or a merely confusing distraction? Courtney finds herself in a dilemma, having left behind in her real life a cheating fiance that she has just dumped and her best friend Wes who has betrayed her by covering up for the cheating fiance. How does Courtney deal with Jane's life when her own is in increasing disorder? And more importantly where is the real Jane? Courtney desperately wants to get back to her old life but as she navigates 1813 England in the body of Jane Mansfield, she must ask herself, does she even want to? Fortunately or unfortunately, the destinies of Courtney and Jane seem connected and one has to fulfill it for the other.
I enjoyed Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict but in spite of it being a fun page turner, it didn't sit as well with me as I hoped it would. There were too many loose ends and the romance between Jane and Charles seemed too circumspect and just did not strike a chord with me. Whatever happened to James, the servant in Jane's house with whom Jane seems to have shared a strong albeit fleeting passion? I found the chemistry between Jane and James electric but there was hardly anything between Jane and Charles except about how she keeps extolling about his good looks. Also, I felt there was too much of retrospection and introspection on why Courtney was stuck in Jane's body. The references to Austen's England, Courtney's sarcasm on the out-dated anti-feminist world she finds herself in, the slapstick humor and the laugh-out-loud references to plumbing and personal hygiene in Regency England left me enjoying immensely, but for all that, I found the book somewhat lacking. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is not wanting in wit or humor but what it perhaps lacks is that X-factor. Nevertheless, it was a highly enjoyable read and I am hoping I get some satisfactory answers in the sequel which I will definitely be reading! Jane Austen enthusiasts will lap this one up.
You can read a wonderful review on this book at Kals's blog At Pemberley