Friday, August 13, 2010

Laurie Viera Rigler - Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Title: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Fiction (Historical/Jane Austen)

Love/Hate?: Liked with reservations.
Rating: 3/5
Did you finish?: Yes.

One-sentence summary: Modern-day Courtney wakes up as Regency Jane.

Why did you get this book?: Won it!

Do you like the cover?: Yes -- very pretty.

First line from book: Why is it so dark in here?

Review: In the end, the book was charming enough that I didn't openly hate it, but my friends can attest to my frustration whilst reading it. The writing was great, the research thorough, making it all the more aggravating that our heroine Courtney/Jane was rather awful for most of the book.

To be fair, Rigler does what I require for a character involved in time travel: some real confusion about what happened and how to proceed. But quickly Courtney/Jane's constant -- and rather repetitive -- musings grew tiring, and as an alleged Jane Austen devotee, she seemed pretty oblivious to aspects of Georgian/Regency life that even non-Austen fans know.

While reading this book, I was strongly reminded of Channel 4's Regency House Party, a reality tv show in which contemporary singles had to spend a 'season' living -- and courting -- by Regency rules. The participants responded as one would imagine: the women chafed at the restrictions and only found Regency life charming at moments. Rigler's Courtney/Jane acts the exact same way; unlike the cast of RHP, however, Courtney/Jane knew she wasn't simply play-acting -- and yet she still behaved anachronistically, selfishly, and rather boorishly. Still -- and this is what kept me from hating the book -- in the end Courtney/Jane put on her big girl pants and grew up, and it was both in character and reasonable.

The conclusion was a little too quick and neat for me -- what I found most interesting about the book was Courtney/Jane's interaction with Edgeworth and I wish more time was spent on their courtship and less on Courtney/Jane's endless ruminations on her ex-fiance Frank. Given that Courtney's LA friends show up in the sequel, I think I'm going to pass on it -- her friend Wes seems so slimy I don't care how much the author tells me we should secretly like him.

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