Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

So the miraculous appearance of a Pride and Prejudice play in the glass box in my bedchamber is a movie? How will I ever get by without a lexicon for all these words? It is one thing to feign memory loss; it is quite another to be without even a basic vocabulary in such a place.

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict is the flip side of Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. This is my fifth book f0r the Everything Austen Challenge. Many bloggers have commented on the clever insertion of the iPod into the picture, and I have to say it redeems what would have been just another headless lady.

While Courtney Stone is thrown into the body and life of Regency gentleman’s daughter Jane Mansfield, Miss Mansfield herself must cope with waking up as a single gal in L.A. Suddenly she is surrounded by a world she had never dreamed existed. There are loose morals, a confusing lack of social codes, and several accumulating bills, but there is also the independence Jane has always longed for.

Although the two books are parallel stories, it definitely helps to have read Confessions first. Rigler gives details on the personal lives of Courtney and Jane only as they fit the narrative here. I liked this approach as it meant very little repetition between books, but readers new to the premise would probably be a bit confused as to who Frank, Wes, and Edgeworth were, as well as other minor characters and incidents.

The premise of this volume entertained me the most. What would it be like to suddenly arrive in a different country almost 200 years in the future, where the only continuity is Jane Austen novels (six now, with accompanying movies)? In most stories like this someone takes the befuddled newcomer under his or her wing; that happens here to some extent, but everyone believes that Jane actually is Courtney, so she has little excuse for her ignorance. Luckily physical learned behaviors kick in, so if she doesn’t think too hard Jane can drive a car or use a keyboard. Plus, Google is a most informative resource.

Laurie Viera Rigler throws in a few slightly philosophical bits as well, trying to make Jane see that truth is often a matter of perspective, that “what makes a story true in that there is the truth of human nature and self-reflection in it.” Jane needs to learn not to superimpose judgment on everything she sees and hears, especially when modern codes are different from what she has known.

As much as Courtney loved Regency England, it seems kind of clear here that Jane got the better part of the bargain. Once she gets over her horrified sensibilities she thoroughly enjoys her new-found freedom. The first book gave us most of the answers, so this excitement of seeing things for the first time makes up for the relative lack of suspense. I was however, a little confused by the ending.

Spoilers below, so please skip unless you have already read the book or do not plan on doing so.

*SPOILER*

I kept getting the impression from the fortune teller that the girls would switch back when their work was done, and pick up from the new spot in their lives. The diary excerpt at the end of the first book suggested to me that when Jane later returned to Regency England she simply couldn’t recall their courtship but had occasional memories of things from the future. Now it seems as if Jane is staying in Courtney’s life, and Courtney-as-Jane forgot the courtship because to survive in the past she needed to forget that she came from the future.  Their memories seem to have merged together somewhat. The further inconsistency is that even while succumbing to Edgeworth Courtney was thinking of Wes, while Jane is clearly in love with Wes and has forgotten Edgeworth, She doesn’t even know that he wasn’t unfaithful. Does anyone who’s read both have any clarifying thoughts?

END SPOILER

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Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 11:35 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler […]


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