To every fan who's spent hours rereading Jane Austen's books, agonizing over how wonderful it would have been to live in Austen's time with those wonderfully courteous men who must have inspired Mr. Darcy and Capt. Wentworth, this book is a homecoming. Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict is a warm, light, funny, mostly satisfying book which is perfect to read and relax with.
LA girl Courtney Stone wakes up in Regency England in the body of Jane Mansfield, a swap which she first thinks is just a dream. But dream or not, Courtney needs to get used to the wonderful and not-so-wonderful things that were part and parcel of Jane's life in that era. How will Courtney handle being someone else, in a different century nonetheless, even though it might be her favourite author's time? How will Courtney handle the women and men whose idea of everything from hygiene to marriage is so very different from her own?
Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict scores mainly because of Laurie Viera Rigler's obvious love for Austen, as seen through the lead character referencing and quoting Austen whenever she can. Sample this:
'And I resent it being a truth universally acknowledged , no matter what era I find myself in, that a single woman of thirty must be in want of a husband'
The premise is a little like Lost in Austen meets Bridget Jones, while the Pride and Prejudice influences in this book (the wicked 'mother' Mrs. M for instance) are hard to miss. Courtney is an adorable narrator; she can be rambling a lot of times, gets into embarrassing situations and says the wrong things in frustration, but you root for a fellow Janite and want her to get out of any problems and get her Mr. Darcy.
Laurie Rigler's writing is humorous with ease. The thing I loved most about the book was that this had the perfect situation where a 21st century Austen-fan, like you and me, stuck in 1813, makes witty, sarcastic, even frustrated and angry observations about the society and practices of that time.
'I once again thank heaven that Jane Austen's world has no phones, PDAs, or computers. This is the one time in my life that my happiness won't depend on the leavings of my voicemail and email. As for snail mail, there's little chance of that from Edgeworth. Thank goodness for archaic courting rituals.'
Rigler takes us into Jane Austen's time and gives us a bit of a reality check, as the heroine struggles with the commonplace things that Austen never mentioned in her books: sanitation, stench, how tough it is to get into those seemingly elegant gowns that Keira Knightley and Jennifer Ehle made fashion statements with centuries later etc. I enjoyed this theme of the book much more than the romance between Courtney and attractive widower Charles Edgeworth.
I felt too many pages were spent with Courtney speculating about how she got into Jane's body, how long she will stay there etc. These pages about time travel did stretch a little bit and so much of explanation wasn't necessary for me, since I was eager to read more about the Austen-related instances. Also, there were some incidents in the book that did little to move the plot or relate to the main story. But these are few complaints about a book that was great fun to read from start to finish.
Much like a wonderful Bollywood masala film, where you're eager and willing to suspend disbelief to have fun, Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict is very enjoyable. If you're an Austen fan, there's a very good chance you'll adore this book. I'm already looking forward to reading the sequel to this book, Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict.