October 15, 2009
Review of "Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict" by Laurie Viera Rigler
Synopsis: Laurie Viera Rigler's debut novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, was a hit with fans and critics, and a BookSense and Los Angeles Times bestseller. While Confessions took twenty-first-century free spirit Courtney Stone into the social confines of Jane Austen's era, Rude Awakenings tells the parallel story of Jane Mansfield, a gentleman's daughter from Regency England who inexplicably awakens in Courtney's overly wired and morally confused L.A. life.
For Jane, the modern world is not wholly disagreeable. Her apartment may be smaller than a dressing closet, but it is fitted up with lights that burn without candles, machines that wash bodies and clothes, and a glossy rectangle in which tiny people perform scenes from her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Granted, if she wants to travel she may have to drive a formidable metal carriage, but she may do so without a chaperone. And oh, what places she goes! Public assemblies that pulsate with pounding music. Unbound hair and unrestricted clothing. The freedom to say what she wants when she wants-even to men without a proper introduction.
Jane relishes the privacy, independence, even the power to earn her own money. But how is she to fathom her employer's incomprehensible dictates about "syncing a BlackBerry" and "rolling a call"? How can she navigate a world in which entire publications are devoted to brides but flirting and kissing and even the sexual act itself raise no matrimonial expectations? Even more bewildering are the memories that are not her own. And the friend named Wes, who is as attractive and confusing to Jane as the man who broke her heart back home. It's enough to make her wonder if she would be better off in her own time, where at least the rules are clear-that is, if returning is even an option.
Sequels or prequels can be a tricky thing. When the first book is well received, readers have an expectation that the next book will be just as good, perhaps even better. An author venturing into such territory takes a great risk. Laurie Viera Rigler took an even bigger risk as her primary demographic is Jane Austen fans. As one myself, we can be a demanding, unforgiving bunch with very high expectations. After all, any author willing to take characters (and beloved ones, at that) that Ms. Austen created herself, or make Ms. Austen directly or indirectly the subject of their book must be prepared to be compared to Ms. Austen in some fashion.
I adored Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. I will say that I am a somewhat obsessive freak over time travel - - the idea, stories about it - - and you have read my profile, you know that I have a fascination with Jane Austen fan fic and sequels. Confessions (and Rude Awakenings) fit both molds for me. Ms. Viera Rigler made a wonderfully relatable heroine - - Courtney - - and her details of Regency life were a delight to read.
I was thrilled to hear of a follow up novel and Ms. Viera Rigler does not disappoint. Rude Awakenings is a fun romp of a read - - joining Jane Mansfield, who manages to find herself in Courtney’s body, while Courtney s ostensibly in hers. The problem - - and fascination - - being that Jane is from 1813 England and is now in present-day Los Angeles. Her shock, awe and fear over our daily necessities like cars, televisions, phones and electricity is humorous and humbling. Of particular joy to me was Jane’s thrill over finding out not only the author’s name of her favorite book (Pride & Prejudice) but that she had written five more completed novels during her lifetime. Not only did Jane have to navigate a thoroughly modern world she had no experience with but also had to pick up Courtney’s life with her friends, co-workers, a job, problems with her mother and a recently broken engagement.
Rude Awakenings was a worthy follow-up to Confessions, answering questions posed and left unanswered in the first book. Readers should be pleased not only with Jane’s dilemma but also with a bit of further information given about Courtney as well as more character development for Jane herself.
This book was so good, such a fun read, that I raced through it in about two and a half days (and weekdays, while working). I would recommend it for all Jane Austen fans, fans of the Regency era or other historical fiction and especially anyone who has read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.
Author Laurie Viera Rigler's website: http://www.janeausstenaddict.com/
I reviewed this book from a library copy.