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.

11 responses to “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

  1. What a good point Iris, so true that it is hardly satisfactorily explained WHY it happened. That would make the story more interesting, you are right!

  2. You’re very right, Iris. I don’t like the time travel books myself, but more because I think it’s an excuse for authors to write modern female characters into a historical setting. I had this book but gave it away without reading it because I really have trouble stomaching Jane Austen re-writes.

  3. I must admit to not being a fan of these modern versions of Austen. I’m probably more of a Bronte girl myself but I did enjoy Northanger Abbey and Emma. There was a tv drama here not long ago “Lost In Austen” which worked very well, I thought, where a modern girl with a taste for a romance finds a gateway into the world of Pride and Prejudice and of course The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde which I thought was brilliant – very witty and clever and not too self conscious.

  4. I have exactly the same reaction when I’m ill, but for me it’s Helene Hanff’s books starting with ’84 Charing Cross Road’. I need to read about people who love books as much as I do. It makes me feel safe.

  5. I’ve never read any time travel books where a modern character somehow invades the body of someone from another historical period. I would rather read an original classic over and over or watch DVDs of a favourite book (different versions of a movie), my favourite being Jane Eyre, when feeling ‘under the weather’. I hope you’re feeling better now.

  6. I always hesitate before reading an adaptation of a classic or a contemporary novel which touches the classics… And like you, I need long breaks between them.
    Time travel and waking up in another character’s body is not something I would quiet enjoy but since it has Austen in it, I’ll probably read it just out of curiosity…
    You’re %100 right about authors not explaining the ‘why’ part of the story and they expect the reader to be satisfied when they only answer the ‘what’ part…
    But all and all, sounds like a good book to read between naps… :)

  7. I like for my time travel to have reasons too, or at least to have clearly defined parameters that don’t change throughout the book. A one-off time travel event that goes unexplained would be maddening for me!

  8. Hmmh, I liked the books by Austen that I read, but I´m not really obsessed enough for modern re-writes and such ;) It´s great that they are a comfort to you when you´re sick though. I always watch favorite movies and tv shows, too.

    I´m reluctant to read stories such as this, it seems like someone just made their not very well though-out daydream into a movie and used a cheap plot device.

  9. Very interesting commentary on the book, and one that I can agree with you on. I haven’t read this particular book, but I totally get where you’re coming from. I always like there to be a reason why things happened: I hate books that have huge things like time travel occur just because it needed to happen to more the story along. That being said, some books do this and are still a lot of fun to read. Not every book necessarily needs to give you all the reasons that you might like (but it would still be nice.)

  10. Pingback: June Wrap-Up and July Reading Plans « Iris on Books

  11. Pingback: Book Review: #27 – Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (audio) | Let's eat Grandpa!

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