I am a bit of a Jane Austen fan. Sometimes I just need to pull Pride and Prejudice off my shelf and curl up with Mr. Darcy. It seems that I am not the only person with a fondness for Jane Austen and her fabulous stories. In the past few years there has been an influx of spin-offs, remakes, and sequels. The latest has been the introduction of zombies to Pemberley. I am not quite sure how Ms. Austen would feel about that...
Some of my favorite additions to the number of Austen fanfics being written are by Laurie Viera Rigler. Her first in the series, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, was published in 2007 and features modern-day Courtney Stone who wakes up in nineteenth-century England. Courtney has left behind her L.A. life of a broken engagement and lost friendship to inhabit the body and life of Jane Mansfield. Courtney has little time to figure out how she ended up two hundred years in the past before she is swept away in an Austen-like land full of dinners, balls, and beaus. One man in particular, Charles Edgeworth, seems to have interest in Jane Mansfield, but Courtney doesn’t know what the means to her. Courtney struggles has her two lives mesh together and she wonders if she will ever go back to her own life. Jane Austen even has a cameo in this addition to Austen-lit.
Rigler's latest novel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, introduces us to the real Jane Mansfield from the previous novel. It seems when Courtney took over Jane's life in 1800s England, Jane had been thrown into modern-day L.A. Jane awakens one morning to a pounding headache and someone at the door. It seems Courtney (whose body Jane now inhabits) has had a bit of a rough time lately, and her friends are worried about her. Jane struggles to adapt to the 21st century while figuring out who the strangers are that keep jetting her around in fast-moving carriages, why men and women are allowed to dine together in outdoor bistros, and how the music keeps coming out of the tiny picture frame with buttons.
In both novels, Rigler takes us to the world of Jane Austen while maintaining a firm foothold in the present-day. We get to experience the daily things we take for granted while Jane humorously tries them for the first time. Both books are highly recommended.