Laurie Viera Rigler’s novel Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict begins with an interesting premise for any Jane Austen fan: what if you woke up one morning and found yourself in the middle of the Regency, with folks who act and look like characters right out a Jane Austen novel? Courtney Stone, Rigler’s protagonist, is a huge Jane Austen fan. Her love life is unfulfilled. She has recently broken up with her fiancé Frank after catching him with another woman, and she has severed ties with her best friend Wes after discovering he has been complicit in helping Frank hide his dalliance. All of a sudden, she is Jane Mansfield, she’s apparently suffered a bad fall, and a doctor wants to bleed her in the hopes it will cure her.
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict explores the question of how a women with 21st century attitudes might fare in early nineteenth century England. Courtney makes several missteps and finds it difficult to accept her more constrained position in Regency society. It’s a fun, light read. It’s clear Rigler has read and enjoyed Austen’s novels. The danger in associating oneself so closely with Austen is that one cannot possibly compare, and Rigler’s prose certainly suffers from the comparison. However, there are passages to admire. Rigler manages to capture Bath and London well. I found Rigler’s heroine wearing and perhaps not as sympathetic as Rigler intended. The characters in general do not sparkle with life in the same way that Austen’s characters do. Few of us, however, are up to Aunt Jane’s standard.