Monday, February 12, 2018

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict - Laurie Viera Rigler

Summary:  After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bed chamber of a woman in Regency England.  Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy? 

Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman’s life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer.  But not even her level of Austen mania has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condomless seducers, and marriages of convenience.  This looking-glass Austen world is not without its charms, however.  There are journeys to Bath and London, balls in the Assembly Rooms, and the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who may not be the familiar species of philanderer after all.  But when Courtney’s borrowed brain serves up memories that are not her own, the ultimate identity crisis ensues.  Will she ever get her real life back, and does she even want to?  (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  Hi. My name is Mindy and I am an avid Jane Austen fan.  I loved reading Pride & Prejudice and have seen nearly all of the movie adaptations for her various novels.  I especially adore Lost in Austen, a delightfully cheesy, slightly saucy TV mini-series that came out a while back about a girl who travels through her bathroom wall and gets sucked into shenanigans of the Bennets of Longbourne.  In fact, it was that particular story that led me to snap up Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict when I browsed my way into it at our local used bookstore.  What Austen fan hasn’t imagined what life was really like back then?  

Courtney Stone doesn’t know how or why, but she’s woken up in Regency England in a body and a time that is not her own.  Now, people keep calling her ‘Jane’, her memories keep getting mixed up, Jane’s mother wants her to marry someone she’s pretty sure is a scoundrel, and she seems to have been dropped smack in the middle of an upstairs/downstairs relationship with a complete stranger.  Quickly smitten by the dignified manners, elegant ballrooms, and dashing gentlemen, she is equally appalled by the medieval medical practices, bacteria-laden bathing pools, and restrictions placed upon women.  Courtney needs to figure out how she got here – and how to get back! 

This book starts out with an entertaining premise and has some delightful little moments.  There are plenty of Austen references to entertain (including a cameo by the infamous author herself), and I enjoyed some of Courtney’s more modern observations about the Regency era.  However, there were a few things that bugged me about this novel:
  • Courtney has none of her new body’s memories, but all of its skills.  She has all of its skills, but can't seem to understand why her outlandish (for the times) behavior might have lasting repercussions.  
  • Courtney and her main romantic interest registered ZERO on the chemistry-o-meter.  Oh, there were professions of chemistry...the words were there…I just didn’t buy them.  Also the relationship I was rooting for went absolutely nowhere.  It just evaporated.  
  • The question of how Courtney got in this particular ‘sitch’ and how she was going to get back were not answered to my satisfaction.  It’s hard to imagine that they will be answered to anyone’s satisfaction.  That’s all I’ll say about that. 

Unfortunately, the entire story didn’t feel consistent.  It bounced around some times, dragged here, raced there, had some weird moments, and then sort of imploded.  I really wanted to like it, but the ending left so many questions unanswered (and in such an unsatisfactory way) that I can’t in good conscious recommend this book to anyone.  At least, not on its own

Now, bear with me.

When I picked up this book at the used bookstore, I also picked up its sequel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict.  (What can I say?  I had credit and they both had the word “Austen” in the title!)  Now, it turns out that the second book tells the reverse story – of a Jane Mansfield who wakes up in Courtney’s apartment in modern day LA.   So, is it possible that Courtney’s story isn’t quite over?  Maybe the end of the first book was more of a transition to the rest of the story?  I’ll have to let you know.  I’m going against my own better judgement here (kinda like Darcy, eh?), reading a sequel when I didn't really like the original, but I want to make sure I’ve given the series a fair shake and I'm mildly interested in the idea of a Regency-era woman trapped in LA.  I will keep you updated and if I finish the sequel, I’ll review it and link it here (<-----i 2="" coming="" it.="" nbsp="" o:p="" read="" review="" ve="">

My Rating; 2.25 Stars  (Translation: Mehhh.)

For the sensitive reader:  Some profanity and suggestive situations.  The main character is a “modern woman” in every sense of the word and far too carefree with her affections than is sensible or acceptable in Regency England.  

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