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E & K Family Book Review
Friday, November 11, 2011
What Would Jane Austen Say? Regency Miss Comes to Terms with the 21st Century: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, By Laurie Viera Rigler
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
Author: Laurie Viera Rigler
Published By: Dutton
Date Published: June, 2009
Recommended Age: 13+ (E&K: Young Adult)
Reviewed By: Laurel Shimer, My Heart Beats Faster in Past Times,
Jane Mansfield fell off her horse in England, in the early part of the nineteenth century. When she comes too, she has traveled forward in time nearly two hundred years, and moved to Los Angeles.
In the twenty-first century, Jane has become Courtney Stone*. Of course, like all time travelers≠≠, she needs to come to terms with where she is and how to function in that new era. Courtney (nťe Jane) does a lot more than master electronics and computers, figure out how to drive, quit her job and learn how modern women interact with the opposite sex. She also leaves a verbally abusive job, confronts the challenge of unemployment, and develops an independent spirit.
By the time the reader gets to the last page, Courtney has also located and read all the Jane Austen novels that were published after she left England and found true love. But most importantly she has developed a new sense of self-worth.
Laurel Shimer's Thoughts:
Linking your novel with Jane Austen is a hot gimmick. There are vampire stories linked to Jane (Ick! Not my style. Somebody else can review those), a mystery series (Iíve tried several and they donít click for me), and modern-day takes on her romance stories. Several explore characters Miss Austen created. Others expand on situations in her well-known stories. I tried one that was set just after Elizabeth and Jane married Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. As far as I was concerned, it was tedious, overly focused on uninteresting sexuality(itís a romance novel crime to write boring sex scenes), and Ė worst of all- it didnít ring true, when it came to the people that I know so well from Pride and Prejudice.
I have, however, enjoyed a couple of Jane Austen time travel romance books. Iím a romantic time travel author and blogger myself, so I try to stay on top of whatís coming out in romantic time travel fiction. When I read the work of other time travel authors, I contrast the way they transport their gal through time, how the protagonist accepts and adapts to her new situation, and how falling in love differs for the heroine whoís outside of her own-time comfort zone.
Ms. Rigler has her own take on these time travel romance plot essentials (which Iím not sharing to avoid spoilers!), but she delivers more than the basics. She brings her nineteenth century miss into modern times in two unexpected ways.
The first way is in the development of a significant female bond between the heroine and a new friend. Every admirer of Jane Austenís stories knows that close relationships between women play a big part in Austenís novels. Itís rare, however, to find significant gal-to-gal time in the literary descendants of her stories, modern romance novels. I would have liked to see Rigler really delve into, and demonstrate the spark that led to this relationship between these two women. Still, I enjoyed this aspect of the story.
The second unexpected, and very welcome, theme, was Jane/Courtneyís exploration of a new career. Unlike many other romance authors, Rigler doesnít skate over the challenges of her heroineís need to survive. Jane/Courtney figures out pretty quickly that nobodyís Daddy or Mama is going to come to her rescue when it comes to putting food in her refrigerator or keeping the power on. She resists the temptation to accept the one job that does fall in her lap for all the right reasons, and struggles to locate and secure basic employment. As a part of the workforce, Jane/Courtney learns a lot about what it means to be a modern person, putting in time doing the work that a servant would have done for her, in her past-times life. Of course, along the way she stumbles across her dream job. This is a romance novel after all!
The balance between the importance of female companionship in the English Regency era and a modern womanís voyage of self-discovery through career identification, is an excellent balance for a womanís time travel story. These elements take this book beyond standard romance fare and make it a thought-provoking story.
My Overall Opinion
I like the way Jane/Courtney learns not to take herself and the challenges of life in her new era, too seriously. More than a time travel romance, this book reads like a humorous take on a self-help book for dyed-in-the wool romantics.
Language: Clean Language
Adult Content: Reference to pre-marital sexuality as a modern societal norm, Occasional alcohol in context of adult meals and social life, Jane/Courtney does keep a bottle of vodka in the freezer, but she doesnít overdo
Romantic and sexual interest between adults. Sexual daydreaming by the heroine. Marriage proposal/acceptance.
Violence: No Violence