Daily Archives: June 17, 2010

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict – Laurie Viera Rigler
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010
3.5 out of 5 stars

Many of you know I am a Jane Austen addict. Or well, I go through periods in which the word addict applies. And so when I feel ill, and I can’t quite handle reading, I often turn towards my pile of DVD’s that contain Austen adaptions, because I need something that’s familiar enough for it to allow me to lose focus every once in a while and that will cheer me up at the same time. I also often become quite obsessive about these stories around times of illness. Having watched two versions of Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth, I want to feel like I felt when I discovered Austen for the first time all over again. And so I turn to Jane Austen’s book, or, like I did last week, I turn to one of the books that touch on Jane Austen’s novels. I had Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict on my shelves for a few months, but I didn’t really feel the need to pick it up. There’re only so much adaptations I can take and I need long breaks in between reading them. However, when you’re suffering from a cold and there’s nothing else to do but lie down on the couch all day, these sorts of novels are perfect for keeping you company without requiring you to commit to reading all day long. And so, while being ill I read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict one chapter at a time, often falling asleep in between chapters. And I have to admit, it was quite enjoyable for its genre. I often come to these books prepared to be disappointed and that was wholly unnecessary in this case.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is about Courtney Stone, a 21st century American who lives in Los Angeles, but one day wakes up in the body of Jane Mansfield in the England of Jane Austen. At first she struggles to come to grips with the new situation. She especially resents the unequal treatment of woman and the lower classes and longs to return to her former life. However, she slowly starts to feel more at home in 19th century England. She even starts to remember Jane Mansfield’s memories. However, these memories put her in an awkward situation: she doesn’t know whether she should trust her suitor, Mr. Edgeworth.

There is one thing that bothers me in all of the books that feature contemporary characters meeting characters from Jane Austen’s time and that is the lack of explanation given as to why this happens to them. It always feels like it is simply plot devise and that the authors themselves don’t particularly care to answer why it happens, because they don’t have any idea on it either. And yet, I would personally prefer it if authors, instead of choosing the simple way around these questions and remarking something along the lines that it “must be something magical that she didn’t quite understand”, would put a little more thought into it and come up with a more believable plot. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t like the idea of time travel because it isn’t realistic, I would simply enjoy these novels better if the author had put more thought into this aspect of the story.