I gave in to the allure of the bargain bin and got myself copies of Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.
Confessions and Rude Awakenings are more like companion novels than prequel/sequel, so each can be read independent of the other. In Confessions, we meet Courtney Stone/Jane Mansfield, a modern LA girl who unwittingly finds herself transported into the body of an early 19th century country gentleman’s daughter. Suffering from a broken heart, Courtney indulged her woes with Jane Austen and vodka, a potent combination. When she finds herself 200 years in the past, in Jane’s body, she concludes that she is merely in the throes of a vivid dream–the result of a little too much Austen. A run-in with a country doctor’s scalpel soon dispels that notion and Courtney finds that she must come to terms with the less-than-glamourous aspects of life in Jane Austen’s England while making sense of the life that she has taken over.
But where is Jane Mansfield while Courtney stone is inhabiting her body? Rude Awakenings answers just that. When prim and proper Jane awakens in Courtney’s LA apartment and finds herself alone in the company of a strange gentleman, what is she to think? Like Courtney, Jane thinks herself asleep until she finds that her situation is no dream, and that she must come to terms with the disparity between 21st century Los Angeles and her quiet country life. Never mind that the life that she must now command is in a right state, Jane must learn to navigate the ins and outs of modern life and make sense of Courtney’s complicated love life.
This is a fun set of novels. Jane/Courtney remind me of a pair of Bridget Joneses with an Austen twist. I did, however, enjoy Confessions a bit more than Rude Awakenings. While both heroines must learn to inhabit their new bodies and societies, reading Jane’s highly detailed exploration of 21st century technology was not as entertaining as Courtney’s discovery of the less than genteel realities of 19th century living. I also found Jane(Courtney’s) friends, Anna and Paula, a bit irritating and much preferred Courtney(Jane’s) friend, Mary. That said, I did enjoy Viera Rigler’s treatment of Jane’s burgeoning feminism and her desire to establish herself as an independent woman with a “competency”. So… I like Courtney’s story in Confessions, but I also like Jane’s feminist qualities in Rude Awakenings.