I am not an Austen-ite. I have read more books about her books than I have actually read her books. I was Miss Bingley in a school production of Pride and Prejudice, my one line being “And my friend, Mr. Darcy” when I introduced the hero to the Bennetts, and other than that, I really have no idea what happens in P&P, never even having seen Colin Firth in Darcy’s role that appears to have made every other female squeal. I did love, love, love Emma Thompson’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, which I count as one of my favorite movies ever, and I even read the book! Thus endeth my Austen education.
However, during my recent-ish ill-fated trip to Borders (and no, to date I haven’t heard from them), I found a hardcover copy of Laurie Viera Rigler’s Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict from the bargain bin for $3. The plot sounded intriguing, so I added it to my purchase to pad my total.
Jane Mansfield wakes up after a fall from a horse in Regency England to find herself trapped in the body of Courtney Stone, a struggling single girl in modern day LA. Not only is Jane shocked by the modern world, but she finds herself at the tail end of a broken engagement, with very little money, and working a dead end job for an abusive boss. She needs to make sense of all of the things around her and try to get Courtney’s life together so she can live a life that makes sense to her and fulfills the duty she feels to the girl who she presumes is living her life back in England.
**SPOILER ALERT: The rest of my review contains minor spoilers that may or may not ruin the book for you if you plan to read it**
This was a very engaging book. You find yourself rooting for Jane in the midst of her confusion. There were some things that I kind of didn’t much care for—she is able to make use of muscle memory to drive a car and operate a computer, she has a friend who keeps showing up right at the right moments like a fairy godmother, and a local bar has a mysterious time traveling room that she can go to for information from a gypsy woman (although to be fair, she only went twice). Also, a few of Courtney’s memories of previous events flash into her head.
All in all, however, the book was a fun read. It’s nothing that’s going to tax your brain, but it’s good, clean chick lit fun that gives you some escape from reality for a bit. Jane is a likeable character. Her friends Anna and Paula are not real well developed and consequently, I got quite a negative vibe from Paula in particular and wished she would just disappear. The part in which Jane deals with her boss was, to me, laugh out loud funny.
I had a tough time rating this book on GoodReads, but ultimately, I gave it 4 stars instead of 3 mainly because it was good enough that I really, really wanted to read about Courtney’s experience in England. Happy day! Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict was actually written first and details Courtney’s experience when she wakes up in England after hitting her head in a swimming pool. Happier day! Someone on PBS had a copy! It’s on its way to me now.
This book counts towards the TwentyTen Reading Challenge under the “Who Are You Again?” category and the the BBC reading challenge (bringing my total for that challenge to three I think). I have a copy of this book if anyone wants to borrow it.
Happy page turning!