Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, By Laurie Viera Rigler
Sunday 07 March 2010
The protagonist Courtney Stone wakes up in a dream, and "doomed to be an anachronism" since it is now 1813 England, rather than the present-day Los Angeles from which she hails. She revels in the reflection of the unfamiliar woman gazing back at her – a woman called Jane Mansfield. She also has to inhabit an entirely different body of thought and feeling, and over the course of the novel will struggle to fit into some rigid notions. Jane has just awoken from a riding accident and is confronting a world deciding how to treat her: is she best off in an asylum? Or having "the offensive humours in the blood" drained out of her? Or simply eating and sleeping well?
At the heart of this pacy story is a line from Pride and Prejudice: "Till this moment, I never knew myself." Courtney must court not only a new lover but new versions of identity, which she tries on like a child playing with unfamiliar garments. Rigler adds her fun-filled share to Austen's "bit of ivory", showing her legacy to be alive and kicking in contemporary writing.
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