Since Jane Austen is all the rage these days, a spate of novels in some way based on her works has been making the rounds the past couple of years. So far, Carrie Bebris has done a fine job of using Austen for good, as has Shannon Hale. This is particularly the case when it comes to good, clean use.
Laurie Viera Rigler has done a fine job taking Austen and making it her own, too. Just not as cleanly. I have mixed feelings about Confessions, in part because of the “cleanliness” aspect and in part for plot issues.
But first let me note that Rigler’s novel is fun, if that’s what you’re seeking. It’s a fun, easy, light read that keeps you reading. A fan of all things Austen, current-day Los Angeles resident Courtney wakes up after a particularly bad day to find herself in someone else’s body — in Regency England. She finds out her borrowed body’s name is Jane Mansfield, and she’s right in the middle of some love and family issues. Thinking she’s dreaming, then thinking it’s bound to be very temporary, Courtney just does the best she can with what she’s got. This means finding out the real goods on the mysterious but handsome man who’s courting her, Mr. Edgeworth, and dodging attempts by her mother, cousin and others to either put her in an asylum, stick her in a bad marriage or worse.
It’s a fun romp. Now, getting to some of my sticking points: although I don’t expect every novel featuring an Austen fan who lives in the current day to be as squeaky-clean as all things Austen wrote herself (although I certainly wouldn’t mind that), I do find a few points to be jarringly out of place, even considering the modern-day/Regency-era juxtaposition. I can’t specifically mention these points, or it’ll spoil the plot. I just can’t swallow some of the things she has happen in Jane’s time.
The ending also leaves a little to be desired; it’s rather murky. I’m sure that’s deliberate, but it could probably have been done a little better.
Despite its shortcomings, for those who can’t get enough Austen, Confessions is worthy, entertaining reading for a weekend.
Rated: Moderate, for one instance of strong language, somewhere between five and ten uses of moderate language, and about the same amount of mild language. Also one scene involving nudity/specific bodily description. Some other references to sex.