“I am Miss Mansfield. Jane is my Christian name. I neither look nor sound like this. When last I went to sleep I was in my own bed, on my father’s estate in Somerset, and it was the year thirteen. 1813. Not” –and there it is, on her desk, a leather-bound book open to the frontispiece, a calendar topped by the numbers 2009. “It was not 2009. I am not ill, Dr. Menziger. I am simply lost.”
It is a fun exercise for the modern Janeite to imagine herself suddenly waking up in Jane Austen’s world—her real world, not the somewhat sanitized version presented in films of her novels. This has been fertile ground for novelists, with varying success; Laurie Viera Rigler’s previous novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, is easily the best of the crop, fresh and smart and more literate than the others. Thus we had high expectations for Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, a companion piece in which we experience the other side of the body-switch: Jane Mansfield (yeah, we know), willowy Regency brunette maiden, waking up as shapely, blonde, 21st century and decidedly not virginal Courtney Stone. If Courtney, well-versed in Jane’s time from her Austen addiction, had difficulty adjusting, just imagine what poor Jane is feeling.