Tag Archive | austen fiction

Review : Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Pages : 289
Genre : Austen Fiction, Chick Lit
My Rating : 

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!

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.

Rude Awakenings was like a candy bag : you wish it would last longer, and yet you can’t stop yourself from going through it as quickly as possible. It was that good! It was fun! While Confessions had been completely unsatisfying in the end, Rude Awakenings answered most of my questions – and even some more.

Having re-read Confessions a little over a week ago, the story was still fresh in my memory. One thing I really enjoyed was the difference between the two books’ narration styles. They were similar, but through the language you really had a feel that the two women didn’t come from the same place and time. The author made a fantastic job on the two characters, who have similarities in their personnalities without feeling “the same”.

I also preferred Jane as a narrator; while Courtney seemed a little whiny at times (many times I wanted to give her a good “shoulder shake”), Jane was an adorable and curious narrator. Of course, she was at first scared and cautious, but she quickly learns to appreciate her new life. Her puzzlement, and amazement for all things modern was adorable but believable.  Her look on modern life was hilarious, but also very true! She made observations on today’s women lives that were right on point, without being contradictions to her own character.

Most of all, this book was fun. I laughed many times, and out loud I should add. You have to love a book that brightens your day like that!

I also appreciated the part the love story plays in the book. Oh, it’s there, and you hear some word about Wes or Frank or even Edgeworth mostly every page. But fortunately, Jane has other concerns : re-organizing Courtney’s life means putting back in place many things, from her work situation to her precarious financial status, without forgetting the annoying neighbor. Her happiness doesn’t depend exlusively on her love relationship, and that’s a good thing to read!

Although this book has a parallel story line to the one in Confessions, I would recommend reading them in the order they came in. There are many explanations, allusions and references to Confessions in Rude Awakenings, and you will certainly enjoy reading the second book the last. Plus, isn’t it better to keep the best for the end? 🙂

Review : Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Pages : 288
Genre : Austen Fiction, Chick Lit
My Rating : 

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?

But not even her love of Jane Austen has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condomless seducers, and marriages of convenience. Enter the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who fills Courtney’s borrowed brain with confusing memories that are clearly not her own.

Try as she might to control her mind and find a way home, Courtney cannot deny that she is becoming this other woman—and being this other woman is not without its advantages: Especially in a looking-glass Austen world. Especially with a suitor who may not turn out to be a familiar species of philanderer after all.

I first read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict last year, when it finally came out in paperback. I remember reading it almost completely in one sitting, enjoying its light humor and predictable-but-adorable plot. As a fan of both Jane Austen and time travel, this book was exactly what I was looking for after a stressful semester. Until I hit the ending.

Honestly, I couldn’t remember an ending that had brought more unsatisfaction. I thought it didn’t answer any question, and I felt like I was missing a big part of the story! Completely frustrated, I decided I hated the book, shoved it at the back of my bookcase and forgot about it.

Little did I know that the author was then working on a second novel that would probably answer my questions and doubts! So, of course, I had to re-read the first book before I read the second. All I could remember of it was that frustrating ending. Based on that sole memory, I wouldn’t have given this book more than 2 stars.

As it turns out, this book was in fact a very fun and quick read. Suspend your disbelief and this is quite an interesting travel. Even though Courtney is unbelievably unaware of the social context for a Jane Austen addict, she offered a fresh look on the period and was entertaining to follow around. One of my favorite aspects of the story was Courtney’s quest to discovering what happened in Jane Mansfield’s life before she took over her body.

I just started reading the second book, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen addict, and I’m really glad I didn’t gave up on this one. I still find the first book’s ending a little irritating, but I can forgive it now that I have the next book (which, from what I heard, holds a better explanation and ending!)

What about you : have you ever encountered such an ending that it changed your complete perception of the book – whether it was positively or negatively? Can an unsatisfying book be forgiven by a wonderful ending – or, on the opposite, a bad ending excused by an otherwise great story?

Review : Prada and Prejudice

Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
Pages : 270
Genre : Ya, Austen fiction
My Rating : 

In a few words, Prada and Prejudice is Jane Austen meets the Wizard of Oz. But you might like a longer description of the book, so here it is :

To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips…conks her head…and wakes up in the year 1815!

There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to them—particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad arrogant. But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up?

I had some expectations for this book : Austen fiction, cute romances and time travel being themes I usually really enjoy, I was hoping I could enjoy this book – and I did! It was a light and charming romance that went by quickly, with many cute and funny moments and entertaining characters.

One of the book’s strenght was Callie, the main character. I loved that she wasn’t a Austen fan – or a litterature or history buff, for that matter. Her strengths being maths and science, she is totally unprepared to the world she lands in. She has no clue as to what is supposed to be happening in 1815, making her clumsyness even more apparent – and funnier for us to read! But this also means that you don’t need to be a Austen fan either to enjoy this book. The writing is nice, too: it flows lightly with natural and simplicity, and it was easy for me to relate to Callie’s voice.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that you need to suspend your disbelief when you jump into the story. While it is made clear that Callie’s travel is a learning experience for herself, there is no explanation as to why and how Callie goes from present to past, and back. She has no say in it; it just happens. If you can suspend your disbelief though, you’re in for a great travel!

Prada and Prejudice is a quick and entertaining read, perfect for a day under the sun. I enjoyed it and would certainly read a sequel – even though there isn’t one planned… yet? 😉

Review : Jane Austen Ruined my Life

Jane Austen Ruined my Life by Beth Pattillo
Pages : 270
Genre : Chick lit, Austen fiction
My Rating : 

For English professor Emma Grant life was prodigiously good, as her favourite author Jane Austen might say, until the day Emma finds her husband in bed with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are. Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal and left penniless by the ensuing divorce, Emma packs up what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England on a quest to find the missing letters of Jane Austen.

Locating the elusive letters, however, isn’t as straightforward as Emma hoped. The owner of the letters proves coy about her prize possessions, sending Emma on a series of Austen-related tasks that bring her closer and closer to the truth, but the sudden reappearance of Emma’s first love makes everything more complicated.

Jane Austen Ruined my Life is pretty much what it looks like: a light, romantic comedy set in England that flows lightly from start to finish.

This novel, written from Emma’s point of view, tells two stories : one is the unavoidable (but predictable) romance with her long-lost friend Adam, and the other is her quest for Jane Austen’s missing letters. The latter certainly was, for me, the most interesting part of the book.

I love everything Austen and I don’t mind the liberties Pattillo took with the historical setting. In fact, I thought it felt really clear to me, through the book, what was fiction and what wasn’t. Mrs. Parrot was a great character: I loved her eccentricities as much as I loved the idea of a Jane Austen secret society. The missions she gave Emma paced the book with mystery, and I was always curious to read what was coming next.

Sadly I wasn’t as connected with Adam and Emma’s obvious romance; I didn’t feel the connection between them. Even though the story was clearly suggesting stronger feelings, I didn’t feel anything more than friendship. It didn’t keep me from enjoying the book, though!

One other thing I loved : the ending. Not exactly conventional, and far more realistic than most books of the genre.

In the end, it was a really fun read. It’s partly a fiction inspired by Austen’s writing, and partly a fiction on Austen’s life. Not unlike Becoming Jane, this book suggests an incredible, life-changing love story that influenced Austen’s writing. If this interests you, I strongly suggest that you also read that article from The telegraph to keep on with the facts! To quote said article, “Theories about the novelist’s relationships are always exciting, because it gives more depth to her life.”