I was excited to receive Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler to review for the Crazy Book Tours. You can count me in as an Austen fan even though I've only read Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility thus far. Suffice it to say, though, that you need not to be a full-grown connoisseur of all things Austen in order to truly appreciate this book.
Waking up in Regency England in the 1800s as Jane, Courtney is at a loss for understanding how her circumstances came to be, and how to more appropriately fit into this new world where women are definitely not considered equals to men. She also inhabits the body of a very different woman than who Courtney is -- a woman who has dark hair, flawless skin, and a nice figure (albeit hidden in the sign of the times empire-waist fashion). This obviously isn't the easiest part of the culture shock Courtney is experiencing, considering the fact that she's a 21st century chick from Los Angeles with a lot of man troubles and mother drama. Not that it's any different in the "new" era for Courtney (I mean, Jane) -- she's got the same kind of dramatic mother, and she's still got those pesky man troubles. In her 21st century life, she dumped a cheating fiance, and she slowly learns that no matter what era you're in, sometimes people don't ever really change, no matter what gender.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit -- it was incredible fun and such a quirky jaunt through Austen's time. Not to mention, it's a very easy read and was finished rather quickly. What I really enjoyed throughout this story is what I've always thought of at the idea of being able to somehow get into another time -- if I'm anywhere at the turn of a century whether 1900s, 1800s, or even earlier, I'm going to wonder how I'm going to brush my teeth? What about a shower? And oh, believe me, it's covered in this book -- complete with descriptions that made me wrinkle my nose and say "ugh!" out loud, or a quick chuckle when Courtney (whoops, Jane) is in church. Here's a sad reminder, though, of class differences and distinction during the 1800s:
But first, a hot bath, which entails the usual heaving, sweating servants hauling buckets of steaming water up the stairs and then hauling the used water down the same route. Once again, I swallow my guilt, refusing to join the ranks of the unwashed whose bodily odors, inadequately camouflaged by perfumes, assault my nose on a daily basis. (p. 159)
And probably one of my favorite moments is a perfect example of the 21st century Courtney dealing with 19th century propriety - while everyone is speaking so perfectly, Courtney sometimes curses away in her head:
Mary sighs heavily. "I do not blame you for being guarded." I suppose it isn't her fault she was raised to be so tight-assed, but I'm not going to let her off that easily.(p. 145)
Were it not for Courtney's complete obsession with Austen novels in her modern life, I am not surprised that she was able to slowly become more familiar with her surroundings. Some people eat loads of ice cream after a break up, but this character sticks to Jane Austen novels. And although she has a few slip ups in saying the slang "Ok," which her mother doesn't understand, for the most part the toughest thing that she's truly trying to understand is how she got there and how she can get home. And maybe find the right man, too, without losing who she is in the process?
I laughed and had a blast while reading this and it looks like this is the first in a series, with the second entitled Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. No doubt I'll be looking out for that on my next book run!. I found myself tickled by similar veins of restraint found in most novels set during this time, and what I just experienced with The House of Mirth post -- I found myself thinking on more than one occasion please, speak up, clear up the confusion! Rigler's ability to fuse together the 21st century modern girl into the life and times of the 1800s was a fun jaunt down a lane in a world in Austen's time!
So the main question is: What do you do after a bad break up? Do you stick to the ice cream diet, or do you jump to a trusted book?
Coffee and a Book Chick