Friday, May 17, 2013

Austen Revisited Part Three: A Modern Girl in a Regency World

May is upon us and in June, we will find ourselves inundated with the presence of Jane Austen here at Mentor Public Library. In preparation, I read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. Courtney suffered a bad breakup with her ex-fiancé and wakes up in Regency England in the body of Jane Mansfield. Suddenly, Courtney must adapt to a different lifestyle, family, society, and, weirdly enough, body! As Jane, a 30 year old unmarried woman, her mother is desperately trying to marry her to the new neighbor, Mr. Edgeworth, who just so happens to be a very desirable man. But without Jane’s memories, Courtney is unsure how to proceed with this man she finds herself attracted to. Being a modern girl in a Regency body is a whole different experience. 

For a woman who calls herself a lover of Jane Austen, it was disappointing that Courtney wasn’t more aware of how to act like a respectable lady while borrowing another’s body. How does she not know that relations between men and women were very formal until marriage?? Don’t go off alone with a man! These were the points that truly annoyed me in the novel. If you read enough Jane, you should understand some of the social structures.

I listened to this book and thought about stopping once, but decided, since I had a long drive, just to get through it. The reader is Orlagh Cassidy and I thought she did a good job of having both English accents and Courtney’s American accent. I enjoyed listening to her, but the novel itself irritated me at points. 

The novel started off very slowly. Instead of getting into the plot, I felt the author was more interested in the things people don’t talk about during this time period, such as the amounts of food, bathing, menstrual cycles, using the toilet. These are all intriguing points, but she should have done a better job of developing plot and including these details. I’m reading this novel for a story and I felt it was very flat until about half way through. On top of the fascination with Regency unspeakables, the author was also very much into the metaphysical idea of taking over someone’s body. Yes, this is a strange happening, but do we, the audience, need to go through all of your thinking on becoming someone else? If this were a more literary novel, I’d appreciate this discussion, but coming from this book which is really meant to be fun, it just felt like little rants. 

Then there was the story, when it finally took route. Jane/Courtney does not want to marry Mr. Edgeworth because she believes he is a ladies’ man, yet she makes out with a couple of men. Talk about hypocrisy. I liked Mr. Edgeworth and his sister and found the story intriguing once I got into it, but mostly I just found a lot of holes that never were tied up. 

All in all, not my favorite JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) read, but a very different look at the Regency world.

If you liked this book or are intrigued by it, try these:

-Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original stories inspired byliterature’s most astute observer of the human heart by Laurel Ann Nattress
~Kristin M.
For more Jane Austen readalikes, visit our previous "Austen Revisited" posts here and here.

No comments:

Post a Comment