Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review: Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

The eagerly anticipated sequel to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

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. Its open-to-interpretation ending left readers begging for more—and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict delivers. 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. -- Dutton

Last year, I read
CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT by Laurie Viera Rigler. I thought it was just a great book -- you can read my review here. I knew at the time that Ms. Rigler was already working on a sequel, and I've been anxiously awaiting the book's release for months. I am so excited to say that RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT is now available and it's just a good, if not better, than the first book (in my humble opinion!)

I guess RUDE AWAKENINGS is technically a sequel, but it is really more like a story that occurs simultaneously -- now I've totally confused you because CONFESSIONS took place in 19th century England while RUDE AWAKENINGS takes place in modern day Los Angeles. Suffice it to say that there is some time travel involved. One thing that I liked about Ms. Rigler's latest novel is that the stories actually came together for me. CONFESSIONS had an ending that was purposely left open for the reader's interpretation. When I read RUDE AWAKENINGS, I felt as if some things were clarified. After reading both books, I certainly think they can stand alone; but I highly recommend reading both books. And if you can read them in order, all the better. I loved all the little references in RUDE AWAKENINGS about things that occurred in CONFESSIONS; and I just felt like I had a little bit of insider information by reading both of them.

While I most definitely enjoyed CONFESSIONS, I think one of the reasons that I liked RUDE AWAKENINGS more was because it took place in Los Angeles in the present. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Jane saw our modern times with her nineteenth-century eyes. There were so many very funny scenes where Jane tried to figure out computers, cell phones, dance clubs, automobiles, etc. I loved all of her dealings with our modern lifestyles, and I found a few of her comments to be rather insightful -- they actually made me assess some of what I take for granted.

RUDE AWAKENINGS is a light, fun read; however, this book does delve into some serious issues -- I wasn't really expecting to think quite so much when I picked up this novel (I mean that in an entirely good way.) I loved Jane/Courtney and everything she symbolized about young women in today's society. When Jane "arrives" in present day, she is suddenly faced with everything she had hoped for back in England -- her own house, her own job, and even her independence -- but her new life wasn't without complications. Even though Jane's adjustment was especially drastic (she was living as another woman in the future), she still faced many of the exact same issues that women do when they leave home and begin life on their own. In addition, I thought Jane/Courtney's relationship woes were similar to many women's relationship problems with men. Her ability to work through these issues and make intelligent decisions that were best for her is a lesson that almost every young woman needs to hear.

I totally think RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT would make a wonderful book club pick. In fact if your group is feeling ambitious, why not pair both CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT with RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT; or read one of Ms. Rigler's books in concert with an actual Jane Austen novel. There is a reading guide
available to help facilitate your discussion, and Ms. Rigler is even available to phone in to your meeting to talk about her books.

Thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.

15 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I've seen great reviews for both of Laurie Viera Rigler's book and think they sound great. I love stories that plunk people from the past into the present day, so I think this one sounds particularly good.

Beth F said...

I so loved the first one that I'm extra excited to hear that the second may be even better. I already have this one on my list. I'd better nudge it closer to the top.

Nicole said...

view our modern ones and I love reading about Jane Austen.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I absolutely have to get on these! They all sound so good.... I have only been reading the original Austen so far.....

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have to get on these too - they sound great!

Serena said...

both of these books sound great.

Nise' said...

Great review. I have this one up next to read!

vvb32 reads said...

the buzz about this sequel has been so good. i'm starting with confessions first though. thanks for the reading guide link.

Book Escape said...

I've wanted to read this one since I heard about it, too. It sounds like it'll live up to all the hype!

Erika Robuck said...

Ooh, I'll have to try those. Thanks!

hmsgofita said...

Hmmm, I didn't like Confessions and I'm in the process of Rude Awakenings to get a better handle on it. I just didn't like the idea that she had to lose her original identity in order to be happy in that time and that she doesn't get back and be with Wes and Jane gets back and is with Edgefield. I guess it's just not the ending I wanted!

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Like you, I really enjoyed CONFESSIONS, and thought that RUDE AWAKENINGS was ... even better!

Laurie Viera Rigler is very talented and creative to pull off the 19th century Jane living suddenly in 21st century LA. I really liked all the scenes that showed her discovered another part of our modern life.

Holly said...

I really want to read both of these!!

Michelle said...

I picked this book up as part of my swag to read for the Everything Austen Challenge but didn't realize it is technically a sequel. I'm glad to know it can stand alone but will likely get Confessions as a result of your recommendation.

Thanks :)

Rebecca :) said...

I am excited to hear this one is good, too. I haven't had the occasion to read the first one, but now I have two to look forward to reading!