Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New Release Spotlight: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Have you ever had a dream so powerful, so realistic that it became intertwined with actual memories? In Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, narrator Courtney Stone wakes up in an unfamiliar room. But the oddities don’t stop there; she also has a British accent and a different name—Jane Mansfield. The year is 1813.

The last thing she remembers is a night spent with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and a bottle of Absolut. But is this a dream due to a night of vodka and months of distress—or is it actually occurring? While the narrator is busy figuring out her present life as Jane Mansfield, we get little tidbits of her life as Courtney Stone. We soon find out the reason of her distress: her fiancĂ© Frank cheated on her, and her best friend Wes didn’t tell her. Devastated and heartbroken, Courtney turns to Jane Austen, her “constant companion through every breakup, every disappointment, every crisis.” Along with Courtney, you’ll wonder if she is simply having a breakdown or if she’s truly inhabiting the body of a nineteenth-century woman.

Courtney goes from a life of struggling to support herself financially to a life where the maids do everything for her, which includes dressing her and giving her baths. But it is also a life where women have little to no independence, and are thought of as old maids if they’re still unmarried by age thirty. It is a time when money and social status were considered the most important qualities in a mate, and people did not often marry for happiness and love. Courtney may be living in the nineteenth century, but she still possesses a twenty-first century mind. After the charming Mr. Edgeworth proposes to her, she searches her Jane Austen knowledge to give a proper response, but instead says, “‘I won’t deny I’m attracted, but don’t you think this is way too fast? I mean, I haven’t even slept with you.’” Her frankness—though reasonable—is not readily accepted in a time period of propriety.

Rigler’s novel is well-written and the dialogue is both poetic and amusing. Not only will you frantically turn the pages to find out why Courtney was transported to the nineteenth century and if she will get her old life back, you will laugh with each new chapter, with each new discovery Courtney makes about her life as Jane Mansfield. Much like Courtney becomes wrapped up in her life as Jane, you too will become engrossed in the intertwined stories of these two women.

Review by Valerie Zogas, Indigo Editing, LLC

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Publisher: Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-525-95040-0
Hardback, $24.95

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