I finally, just survived, my two month long abduction with
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
By: Laurie Viera Rigler
In all honesty this was no true abduction. It really only took me two months to read it because of my book club selection, the fact that NaNo was going on, and not to mention how boring the book ultimately was.
Now I should start off by informing all you book lovers out there that I am NOT a fan of Jane Austen’s books. I’m sorry, I’m just not. I’ve tried. I’ve read a few, but I’m just not a fan.
Having said that, I should say that I LOVE Jane Austen’s movies! Emma - adorable! Sense and Sensibility - LOVE IT!
Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice - I am pretty sure that after my friend Ame showed me this version, I went out, bought it, and then watched it ever day for like a month!
But her books - I’m just not feeling it!
I know what you are probably asking yourself right now;
If you are not a “Jane Austen addict” then why did you read a book about a “Jane Austen addict“?
Well, for one very simple reason.
The main character was named Courtney!
I know that sounds crazy but, my name is Courtney and you just don’t find too many Courtney’s out in literature so when I saw that the MC of the book was a fellow Courtney I couldn’t help myself! Plus, it helped that my local Hastings had the book in a pile for only $3!!!
Incidentally, I have since looked around online to see if I could find other works of literature that have a character named Courtney and this is what I found;
A sci-fi series called Bobby Pendragon and a high school series called Montgomery Lake High - The Right Person; have one of the love interests in their books named Courtney.
Another series called Evernight has a nemesis named Courtney.
There is a girl named Stargirl in the Justice Society of America whose real name is Courtney Whitmore.
The one I'm really excited about is a series of comic books called Courtney Crumrin!
I’m definitely going to order some of those just for fun!
Anyway, back to Confessions…
A problem that I have encountered before (and will probably encounter again) is that I have a really hard time enjoying a book if I don’t like the MC. Sometimes I can think that make stupid decisions and I just want to slap them around but overall I HAVE to like them on some level or it is just not going to work out.
The whole story starts out with Courtney breaking up with her then fiancé, Frank, and she goes home to comfort herself with wine, ice cream, and her favorite Jane Austen novel. That is when the “transformation” is supposed to happen. Through out the novel you are supposed to feel for her in the fact that she is grieving the loss of her relationship. But Rigler paints Frank as this egotistical, flirtatious, patronizing, asshole! And there is literally a scene where Courtney admits that she only like him because of how good is ass looked!!! I just couldn’t help but feel like she was shallow and her feelings for Frank were superficial. I couldn’t empathize with her AT ALL!
But the thing that really bothered me about Courtney was how shocked she seemed to be towards things through out the whole book!
I mean she is supposed to be this huge Jane Austen fan, right!?! She reads the books over and over again, has all the BBC movies, and even is signed up for all the conventions. But for some reason when she goes back in time she is continually shocked at the proper code of conduct between the men and women of that time.
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand her being a little off balance with it all in the beginning. I mean she’s traveled back in time by like 200 years so I can see where that would throw someone off. But she is supposed to be stuck in this time period for over a month and yet by the end of the book she is still shocked that she can’t go off with a guy un-chaperoned!!! The book is only 288 pages long and by page 268 she is still shocked to realize that in that time they didn’t have sex before marriage.
The last thing that I will say bothered me about the book was the epilogue because it is told through the perspective of the real Jane Mansfield.
Let me go back and explain. The concept of the book is that when Courtney travels back in time, it is kind of a weird Freaky Friday over the span of centuries type situation.. Courtney awakes with Jane Mansfield’s body and voice and family and life. We don’t meet Jane throughout the story. We are not allowed any scenes where we see what is going on with Jane’s mind. We assume that Jane’s mind is in Courtney’s body but we don’t know for sure. And when Courtney is in Jane’s life, she looks everywhere for letters or journals written by the real Jane but she can’t find anything.
But for some reason, Rigler chose to write the epilogue from Jane’s perspective instead of Courtney’s. Jane is not really a character in the book. So why, after reading the whole book, would I care about what happens to her years down the line from where our story concludes?
I mean, seriously, it would be like if the epilogue of Harry Potter was told through the perspective of Professor Grubbly-Plank!
Okay maybe that isn’t the best comparison because crazy HP fans will read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that has to do with that world, but it is late so it was the best I could come up with.
On the bright side, I will say that I appreciated the friendship between Courtney (as Jane) and Mary Edgeworth.
Also, Rigler provided a lot of information about that time period. There are scenes where Courtney (as Jane) get’s her period, she tries to understand why wearing makeup is considered taboo, and she learns why people really went to bathe in the waters of Bath.
Rigler gives you the information without allowing it to feel that she is bashing you over the head with everything she has ever learned about that time. And in fact, those bits were probably the most interesting of the entire story.
In the end, all I can really say is that Confessions of a Jane Austen addict… well… I didn’t hate it… I didn’t love it… I wouldn’t recommend it… but, I have read worse!
OH WAIT HOLD ON!!!!!!!!!! Don’t go anywhere yet!!!
Let me share with you two fun facts I learned about the name Courtney while doing my research!
1. The name Courtney was given to LESS THAN 150 babies in 2005 AND 2006!
And 2. The name Courtney ranked 54th on the list of names used most in New Zealand in 2003!