Genres: Regency Fiction
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.
While I devoured the hilarious and swoon-worthy Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler’s sophomore novel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, left me with mixed feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the novel and read through it quickly, but for some reason the plot and characters in reverse didn’t quite get me going this time. To say Jane Mansfield got the short end of the stick is an understatement. Now we get a glimpse of Courtney Stone’s pitiful life in LA. She may be a modern, independent woman, but she also lives in a dreary apartment with bars on the windows, works at a demeaning job for crap pay, she’s on the outs with her best boy friend, and, oh yeah, she caught her fiance messing around with their baker!
Not only is Jane unaware or unaccustomed to our modern times, but also is stuck trying to to put the pieces back together. I don’t really think it’s a fair trade-off to send a woman accustomed to wealth, luxury and no concept of hard work to have to deal with adapting to our social norms, paying rent, driving a car, and just about anything else. I feel like it was a bit harsh to send Jane to such meager circumstances, and, I’ll admit, it was infuriating to read that Courtney’s most trusted friends decided to whisk her away to a shrink at the first signs of Jane trying to explain the situation. Granted, we learn Courtney has suffered an extreme concussion, but still it bothered me. I guess it was one common thread between the two books, but it felt more natural in the first novel. Okay, my rant’s over.
I didn’t really like Courtney’s friends, with the exception of Deepa; however, I felt like Paula’s overbearing and flippant demeanor overshadowed the few glimpses of Anna’s kind and gentle nature. Again, maybe I’m judging them too harshly, but what kind of friends, after one encounter post concussion, would be like, “you are talking crazy and need to be on drugs.” What? At least give it a few days before you make any rash decisions. Moving on.
I have conflicting feelings about Wes. My true character polygamist self absolutely adores his geeky nature, but my modern day creep detector alarm is going off. Wes shows up, uninvited, to Courtney’s place all – the – time. And very conveniently too, I might add. Okay, okay. I understand most of his scenes involve literary devices and plot development, but I mean, come on, give the guy some street cred. * Side note: Wow. I did not intend for this review to be such a b*tch fest, but I’m just trying to be honest.* All in all, Wes is the modern day white in shining armor. He comes to Jane’s rescue on multiple occasions and ends up being a super wealthy Internet nerd – bonus! And he did give me butterflies, so I guess I can’t be too hard on the guy.
Would I read it again: Probably not.