Happy news for all you UK Austen fans. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is invading your shores tomorrow – err, well, um, it might actually be today in London already by Greenwich Mean Time. So today! UK Janeites will now know what all the laughter has been about across the pond since this book was released in 2007 when you finally meet Courtney Stone, a modern LA singleton who mysteriously wakes up from a booze-induced stupor to be transported back in time into the body of Regency-era Jane Mansfield.
No, that’s not the actress Jayne Mansfield, but I love the play of words. We see plenty of that as author Laurie Viera Rigler places her modern thinking Jane Austen addicted heroine Courtney into the 1813 era life of Jane, an unmarried woman of thirty who is also facing a crossroads in her life after a riding accident knocks her unconscious and her threatening mama is determined that she conform or be sent to the insane asylum. Even though Courtney has inhabited Jane’s body, she has no recollection of her memories, only adding to her frustration and angst. Jane’s world could not possibly be worse than her own shattered life back in the future after her fiancé Frank shagged their wedding cake designer, and her best friend Wes covered up for the cad. The engagement is off in her own life, but with her new personae Jane, it has yet to happen, much to the disapprobation of her mercenary mama who is quite determined that she accepts her latest suitor Charles Edgeworth. This dishy buck is even richer and more handsome than Mr. Darcy, so Courtney can not understand Jane’s hesitation in accepting him. Not knowing their back story she tries to fake her way through, all the while reminding herself that it is all a dream and she will wake up or get back to her own life at any moment. Until then, she must negotiate her way through a time where repugnant body odor is ignored, bloodletting common practice, and the social customs and mores for women in her upper-class station are so restrictive that her 21st-century sensibilities clash even after her years of reading Jane Austen novels. With stream of consciousness, pulse beating detail, we follow Courtney/Jane through her travails, cringe over her disgust, feel her anxiety, share in her laughter, and find hope after she meets a fortune teller in Bath who might have the answers to how this mysterious transformation took place, and how she can get home.
Courtney Stone is one of those characters that you just want to wrap up in a big hug. A cross between Bridget Jones and Catherine Morland, author Viera Rigler has crafted a young woman so fresh, funny and real she could be your best friend, workmate or YOU in the same situation! Her use of driving the first-person narrative places the reader within her heroine’s mind adding intensity, candor and humorous insight. Her encounter with Jane Austen herself on a London street is so hilariously embarrassing that it was the high point of the novel for me. Once you have begun on Courtney/Jane’s journey, you will be hard-pressed to put it down, hooked on living her Regency-era life through the filter of her quirky Jane Austen sensibilities. What Courtney discovers about herself through her gradual transformation will pleasantly remind you of why we all become Austen addicts, to begin with. And to sweeten the deal, the highly anticipated parallel story Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict told from Jane Mansfield’s perspective in modern Courtney’s life in LA will be released in the US in June. So, sorry UK readers but if you can not wait another two years for the UK edition, I highly recommend spending the extra pewter and pre-ordering it today!
5 out of 5 Stars
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London (2009)
Hardcover, (304) pages
Cover image courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com
I also have this as an audiobook which I have enjoyed while running errands and waiting for my kids at their various activities. The narrator, Orlagh Cassidy is amazing with her spot on accents and engaging reading. This book was quite the delight!