Questions and Topics for Discussion
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 andLos 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.
ABOUT LAURIE VIERA RIGLER
When not indulging herself in rereadings of Jane Austen’s six novels, Laurie Viera Rigler is a freelance book editor who teaches writing workshops, including classes at Vroman’s, Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore. Laurie lives in Los Angeles and holds a lifetime membership in the Jane Austen Society of North America.
If you grew up in Jane Austen’s world, do you think your most difficult adjustment to twenty-first-century life would be its technological intricacies, the amount of information you are expected to process in a given day, or our confusing and conflicting moral codes?
Would you rather make your way through courtship and marriage in Jane Austen’s day or in today’s world? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each time period’s dating rules and rituals?
In the book, Jane reads the novels of Jane Austen for comfort and guidance as she attempts to navigate the confusing modern world. Have you ever turned to Jane Austen for comfort and guidance? Are there other authors that serve that purpose for you? How have their works been helpful to you?
On two occasions Jane consults a mysterious lady in Deepa’s club. Who do you think this lady is, and where does she come from? Have you ever had an extraordinary encounter with someone that you could not explain in “rational” terms?
What do you think the lady in Deepa’s club meant by “It is my belief that each of us makes his own fortune, and, as a matter of fact, tells it as well”? Did Jane make her own fortune, and tell it as well?
At one point in the story, the lady reminds Jane of the above line from Pride and Prejudice in trying to show Jane that she is being unfairly judgmental of Courtney’s choices with respect to the men in her life. She adds, “Even if a man who looks like a thief is, indeed, a thief, that is not the whole story. Only by stepping into his shoes can you begin to comprehend what made him a thief, and what else he is besides a thief, for we are not only just one thing, we are many. You of all people should know that.”
Do you agree or disagree?
Another thing the lady said to Jane was also in response to Jane’s bewilderment at the sexual mores of the twenty-first century, “The only difference between today’s world and your world is that people have more choices now than they did then.”
Do you agree or disagree?
How do you see Jane’s life progressing after the book ends? Do you see her perfectly content in her life as Courtney, or do you see her longing to return to the nineteenth century? Do you think she ever will return to her own time? Or will the twentieth century become her own time?
Do you think you are more suited to live in the twenty-first century, or in an earlier time? Why? If your choice would be to live in an earlier time, do you think you would be better off with no knowledge of the twenty-first-century world, or with full, experiential knowledge of it?