Book review: ‘Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict’ by Laurie Viera Rigler

rude_awakeningsLife has gotten a little strange for Jane Mansfield: she’s woken up in a cramped apartment in Los Angeles, wearing frighteningly little clothing; her beloved maid Barnes is nowhere in sight; all sorts of strange appliances and glowing boxes are around her, producing very curious noises; and an incredibly good-looking, decidedly ungentleman-like man is tending to her monstrous headache, which he says is the result of whacking her head against the bottom of a pool.

Oh — and it’s 2009.

When Jane fell off her horse on her father’s estate in England, the year was 1813. Heartbroken and battling to get out from underneath her mother’s meddling thumb, Jane had wished for another life — a new chance in a new time. And after her nasty spill, her wish has been granted.

The modern era is a complete and total mystery to Jane, filled with cars, cell phones, iPods, the Internet, television and film adaptations of Jane Austen’s work on boxes with moving pictures (ooh, Colin Firth!). With the help of friends Paula, Anna and Wes, Courtney’s former friend and current ally, Jane-as-Courtney begins to piece together how in the world she may have come to find herself in L.A. — and in the body of blonde, petite assistant Courtney Stone, a woman whose problems, heartbreaks and indecisions Jane has now inherited.

This sequel to Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict follows Jane as her friends come to grips with her funny way of talking — Regency dialect, you know, just without the British accent — and her complete inability to understand any sort of technology. At first chalking up her confusion to the concussion she’s suffered, they slowly begin to realize that Courtney has changed. And it’s all thanks to Jane.

Though I enjoyed Confessions very much, I have to say that I loved this novel even more than Rigler’s debut. Her observations on modern relationships, technology and friendships were spot-on, and I absolutely loved discovering the things we take for granted anew through Jane’s eyes. Contraptions like cell phones and computers are alien to her, and the descriptions of them are often hilarious. How often do we stop and think how strange it is that we’re sitting in front of little glowing boxes right now, tapping out sequences of letters to pull up information from anywhere on the planet? Once Jane discovers the wonders of Google, there’s no turning back. It’s a magical feeling!

The development of Jane’s friendships with Paula and Anna was really fun, as were her interactions with philandering ex Frank and good friend Wes. The romance felt believable, and I thought her descriptions of modern courtship were particularly astute . . . and thought-provoking. Two of my favorite quotes from the book, which genuinely made me pause:

. . . While women value their so-called freedom, they are fearful of giving away too much too soon, thus obviating a man’s reasons for marrying. Which sounds like freedom for men and not for women, in my humble opinion. And which sounds like being ruined is almost as much a risk in this world as it is in mine.

To think I had believed, even for a moment, that he was about to offer me marriage, not a chance to bed him again and be his mistress who must still work and pay her own rent and can be thrown off without a moment’s notice unless perhaps he decides to make her an honest offer again. What a bargain.

So true, Jane — so true! Much of the book was really an examination of what it means to be a “free woman” — free from obligation, or responsibility, or want, or oppression. But, as evidenced above, Jane realizes that the freedom to make choices about love, family, friendship and careers in the twenty-first century doesn’t automatically equate to happiness.

Overall, an incredibly entertaining, interesting and fun look at our world through the eyes of a Regency woman, and a wonderful treat for Jane Austen fans. References to our favorite author abound, and a love of all things Austen — and Mr. Darcy — is just one of the many things Jane discovers she shares with Courtney. Now I want to go back and re-read Confessions, if only to spend more time with funny, perceptive Jane.


4.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0525950761 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website

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Cover art love

rude_awakenings2I didn’t know it was possible to be so in love with a book’s cover art, but let me tell you right now — I am in love with this book’s cover art. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a book by Laurie Viera Rigler, the sequel to Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict.

Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict brings us back to Courtney, modern L.A. girl, last seen in the body of English aristocratic daughter Jane Mansfield a hundred and fifty years earlier. Except now we have Jane in the body of Courtney in present-day California! Oh my! I’m really psyched to see this plot, because one of my biggest issues with Confessions was the lack of understanding regarding what happened to Jane while Courtney was running around English gardens and chatting up attractive English gentlemen in Jane’s body.

confessions_ja_addictBut back to the cover art. A Victorian beauty in a gorgeous pink and white dress — grasping an iPod? Really? Loves it. Anything with a pink sash and awesome font and mixture of textures immediately grabs my eye. Of course, I liked the cover art for the first book, too. But I’m really excited to get my hands on this one, another novel in the long line of original Austen fiction. I just can’t get enough! Rude Awakenings will be released June 25. Check out Rigler’s website here!

Book review: ‘Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict’ by Laurie Viera Rigler

confessions_ja_addict

Courtney Stone is in a world of trouble. Not only is she struggling to get over her philandering ex and dishonest best friend in modern-day Los Angeles, she’s now awoken to find herself trapped in the impossibly different and beautiful body of Jane Mansfield, an unmarried thirty-year-old woman living and breathing in eighteenth-century England — the same England of Jane Austen, Courtney’s all-time favorite author.

In Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Courtney grapples with the whys and hows of her very unusual circumstances in the early 1800s, somehow managing to form an alliance with Mary, the sister of the illustrious Mr. Edgeworth, and beginning to see the world of Austen in an entirely different light. Once admired for its sense of propriety and romance, Courtney begins to realize the social conventions that once seemed so endearing were unbelievably constrictive — even reprehensible. And everything else begins to shift and reshape as she sees the world through Jane Mansfield’s eyes — including a burgeoning relationship with Edgeworth, a strained one with her “mother” Mrs. Mansfield and the countless other details of a life Jane Mansfield seemed to struggle so hard to be living.

I’m a huge Austen addict myself, and I found myself pretty caught up in this story. I can’t say I felt the passion or romance bubbling off the page at any point, but I took these “confessions” to be more about Courtney discovering what a “self-empowered” woman really is — and it doesn’t necessarily mean going out and sleeping with whoever we want, or having all-night girls nights out, or having the freedom to work wherever we would like (though it can be those things, too). Courtney uses her time as Jane to discover who she is as a person . . . as soon as she stops obsessing over how to get back to L.A.

Like other reviews I’ve read, I found the end unsatisfying — I had so many questions about the mechanics of everything that happened. It seemed to all be dismissed by mysticism or just plain overlooked, like we would forget about it. I was also bothered by Rigler’s constant barrage of rhetorical questions — How is this happening? Will I ever be home? Am I losing my identity? Why am I thinking like Jane? — and wanted a little more showing and less telling in the story. More dialogue could have definitely helped with that, I think.

But overall it was a great, fast read, and I think many Austen fans will enjoy Rigler’s romantic scenes and glimpses at life behind Austen’s words — the nuts and bolts of a real bath in Bath, for instance. I was happy to have made the journey with Courtney/Jane.


4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0452289726 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg