Reader review (and preview): Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

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Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict Review by Diana Birchall

Laurie Viera Rigler’s Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is forthcoming from Dutton in August. I’ve just finished reading an advance copy, and thought you would like to hear about it as it’s quite a charming novel. You may be put off by hearing that it’s a form of “time travel” novel, which conjures up images of Harlequin romances where our heroine gets boinked by a Regency dude, but disabuse yourself – this is the luxury model of the genre. The difference is that Rigler writes beautifully and is a true genuine Austen addict herself, with the result that when she does the early 19th century characters, the purist doesn’t wince. Equally engaging is her 21st century American heroine and narrator, Courtney Stone, who finds herself in the body and life of a nineteenth-century woman named Jane Mansfield. Courtney’s sharp and slangy modern young sensibility contrasts piquantly and amusingly with the new (or old) world where she finds herself. Rigler has an excellent eye for period detail, and is able to produce a highly effective novelistic “you-are-there” experience. The heroine’s reactions to the realities of 19th century life, not just the cumbersome bathing methods and medical horrors but the behavior and assumptions of the people she is suddenly forced to live with, are extremely vividly told. To travel with Courtney as Jane into the world of another Jane (and they do come briefly and satisfyingly face to face) is quite pleasurable, and I’d have no hesitation about recommending this book to those who’d enjoy a lightly and deftly orchestrated visit to 1813.