Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Icha and I were fortunate enough to be sent a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. I began reading and have to say I could not put it down; it is the ultimate feel-good, page turner. I think that in this world we all live in it is so easy to become submerged in serious, real issues but after finishing this book I was truly refreshed and just wanted to read more.

I am sure all of you Jane Austen fans reading this will know the familiar feelings of wondering just what it would be like to live in the world that Jane creates for us in her novels. I know that I have often gone to bed at night and tried to create a dream that involves me going to a regency ball and meeting my very own Mr Darcy. What makes this novel so special is that Laurie Viera Rigler takes this common fantasy that we all hold dormant and can all relate to and wrote it down; it is absolutely fantastic.

The story begins with a 30 year old woman called Jane Mansfield waking up in her bed in 1813. There is a catch, however, she may have the body of a woman existing in 1813 but the mind of this woman is actually Courtney who comes from modern day Los Angeles. Courtney, a huge Jane Austen fan from 2007, has just recently split from her unfaithful fiancé and upon going to bed one evening, finds herself waking up as Jane Mansfield in 1813.

She instantly thinks that she is in a dream but when the dream does not seem to end, she becomes accustomed to the notion that she may be permanently stuck nearly 200 years in the past. As someone who has studied psychology, I love the way that the author pursues the themes of the mind and thoughts that Jane/Courtney is having through analysing her new situation. It is very cleverly written and very insightful whilst remaining funny.

It is then that the author really explores this time period. The research is exceptional and she takes Jane/Courtney on a journey, allowing the reader to learn about family life, social etiquette and the hierarchical structure of the early 1800’s. The modern mind of Miss Mansfield finds it hard to grasp the oppressed position of women and the sheer innocence of the romantic interactions between men and women. We follow her to social Bath and then to London and there is consistent references to the Jane Austen novels that we love and cherish so much.

The reader finds themselves constantly asking the same questions: Will Courtney who is trapped inside Jane Mansfield ever find her way back to 2007? Will they both find their true loves- their own Mr Darcy’s? Will Courtney/Jane have the opportunity to interact with the real Jane Austen who was obviously alive in 1813?

The characters are developed so neatly but in a discrete fashion; by only part the way through the book I really cared for Jane/Courtney and her future and was itching to see what was about to unfold. Her dear friend Mary is adorable, her father Mr M has more depth to him than is originally perceived and there is the traditional Austen comic, shallow character in the form of Mrs M and Louisa. This novel had me laughing out loud constantly and never bored; to entertain there are fortune tellers, numerous eligible bachelors, balls, bonnets, bed bugs, scandal, friendship and love.

I really would recommend it to anyone who has a love of Jane Austen and her novels and their themes. It is a very light read that will lift your mood and make you wish you were a Courtney who also had the chance walk the footsteps of an 1813 lady. Upon realising the unlikeliness of this dream, it certainly makes you want to immediately pick up each of Jane’s novels in turn and read them all over again!

Go buy this book, priced £10.96 in UK ($16.47 in US dollars), available from Amazon. Also see this site for more about the book

Pic 1: Book cover, taken from Amazon

Pic 2: Basingstoke Assembly from Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine March 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am half way through the book and I am trying to slow down so I can savor it a bit! I just love this book, and can already think of 3 or 4 people to whom I will loan it!