Posts Tagged ‘Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict’

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Laurie Viera Rigler, author of the Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, was featured in the most recent edition of JASNA News, the newsletter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. The article described her love for all things Jane Austen and her articles in her blog, Jane Austen Addict. I was thrilled to note that Laurie’s article for Jane Austen Today, “Ten Ways to Cope Without the Complete Jane Austen Series“, was mentioned, and that links to our blogs, Jane Austen Today, Jane Austen’s World, and Austenprose, were also provided.

Speaking of JASNA, the annual meeting, which will be held in Chicago in early October, is full. This is bad news for procrastinators who were waiting to register, but great news for the society and proof positive that Jane Austen is more popular than ever. Click here for more JASNA News (although the article about Laurie is not available online).

Needless to say we were delighted to be mentioned in such a public forum. Please join Laurie and me in our Tuesday night discussion, 7 pm Pacific time and 10 pm EST!

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Last June I wrote a review of Jane Austen for Dummies for Jane Austen Today. I liked the book then, I like it still, and I use it often for reference. Several months after I shared my humble opinion, academician Stephanie Looser made a satirical reference to Professor Joan Klingel Ray’s book in her tongue in cheek essay, Jane Austen, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. The comments under this article are as interesting to read as the article itself, including the response from Dr. Ray, who (accidentally I hope) dissed The Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by my blogger friend, Laurie Viera Rigler. A few weeks ago, Laurel Ann from Austenprose wrote her astute assessment of the situation.

Let’s face it, Jane’s writing is more than brilliant, her stories are more than about mere romance, and her observations on the foibles of human nature are spot on and timeless. We all respond to her work in a very personal way. In fact, I am always open to others’ opinions about Jane and their reactions to her work. In turn, I ask for the same forbearance from others.

While a good debate is healthy (and I have exchanged opinionated ideas with several bloggers), some of the rabid, almost viral responses in discussion boards or the comment sections of blogs utterly perplex me. One individual, for example, jumped on Joan Klingel Ray’s supposedly wrong date for the French Revolution. Disliking the book for various other reasons, she dismissed Dr. Ray’s authority. Excuse me? Dr. Ray happens to be one of the premier authorities on Jane Austen.

Let’s lighten up folks, and take Stephanie Looser’s essay for what it was: irony and fun. We 21st century denizens might have more sophisticated toys to play with than our regency era counterparts, and 200 extra years of war, famine, pollution and inventions under our collective historical belts to put things in perspective, but our predictable behavior and reactions are of the sort that Jane relished satirizing.

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Imagine waking up in someone else’s body in another time period with no clue of how you got there or how you’ll make it back home. That’s the situation author Laurie Viera Rigler has set up in Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. One day our heroine Courtney Stone wakes up as Jane Mansfield, a 30-year-old spinster living in turn of the 19th Century England. The day before she was in Los Angeles nursing her hurt over a breakup with a lout of a boyfriend, and the next thing she knows she is confronted by a strict, harsh-eyed Regency mama who deplores her daughter’s unmarried state.

Laurie Viera Rigler takes us on a fun and frothy romp through the Regency period as our heroine encounters one bewildering situation after another trying to understand what’s happened to her and why. Readers who are expecting a time travel novel with the depth and breadth of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series might be disappointed in this book’s superficial fun. But the fans that adored Jude Devereaux’s Knight in Shining Armor or the time travel movies Somewhere in Time, Kate and Leopold, and Big will definitely have a rollicking good time.

The themes of intrigue, romance, and a fish out of water are fleshed out with the cultural shocks that our heroine experiences as she becomes accustomed to a world of chaperons, lack of running water, a cool and calculating mother, and unhygienic hostelries. What I found most interesting about this time travel book is that as Jane, Courtney looks entirely different. In her regency persona she is taller and prettier, and can embroider with the skill of an experienced seamstress. Although Courtney has all of Jane’s talents and some of her memories, her thoughts and emotions are rooted in the 21st century. This dichotomy places us firmly in the mind of our bewildered heroine, who as Courtney is exceedingly attracted to the suitor her alter ego Jane rejected. It doesn’t hurt that our hero, Charles, is as dapper as Mr. Darcy or Captain Wentworth.

There are a few problems of logic, as all time travel novels share. Jane’s strange behavior and lack of memory are explained away as the result of a fall from a horse. And although Courtney was an avid reader of Jane Austen’s novels, as Jane she has a hard time coming to grips with the lack of baths and ready-to-wear dresses and a tightly circumscribed world that is not as romantic as she had once thought.

As a reader who is interested in the Regency Era, I would also have loved to have read more details about dress, manners, interiors, and architecture. These were spare, but because of this economy of detail, the book moves along quickly. Frankly, I couldn’t put it down at times. I also have a confession to make: This is the first Jane Austen fan book or spin off that I have finished. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is as light and pleasing as a summer sherbet, which, as we all know, is a perfect tonic for a hot summer day.

I give it three out of three regency fans

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Lady Anne is the most well read of our Janeites of the James group when reading about all things Austen, including Jane’s fan fiction. She has agreed to read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and report on her impressions of this novel out in stores tomorrow. Lady Anne is one tough reader to please when it comes to any topic pertaining to the Regency Era. Faint praise from her is fine praise indeed. Here, then, is her review. Mine will arrive in a few short days.

Courtney Stone is a 30-ish single living in LA with a nothing job, a crummy apartment, and lousy taste in men. Like many in her situation, she obsesses over trivialities and takes solace in vodka and the occasional Xanax. But she finds her best relief from the woes of her life in re-reading Jane Austen. Jane Mansfield, a 30-ish single living in Regency England, lives at home with her harsh mother and vague, artistic father. Like many in her situation, she sees only misery and unhappiness before her. In her search for a way out, she consults a fortuneteller, who has apparently done a few terms at Hogwarts School, and who, in the aftermath of a riding accident, slips the very 21st century mind and psyche of Courtney into the body and life of the Regency Jane.

In the fairly predictable incidents that unfold, author Laurie Viera Rigler takes a clear look at the marrying money theme that runs through Austen’s books, as well as the realities of everyday living for the gentried classes and their servants. Courtney/Jane, while chafing against the chaperonage inflicted upon her, a little strict by 1813 for a woman of 30 even by Regency standards, learns to appreciate the fabric of the life she got so much comfort from reading about. It doesn’t hurt that Mr. Edgeworth, an eminently respectable suitor, is also charming and handsome, and everything she had looked for in a man, but couldn’t find in 21st Century LA. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is a good summer read, and fun for every Jane Austen fan.

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