Rude Awakenings Group Guide

RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT is a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Fresh Fiction Pick, and a Pulpwood Queens Book Club selection. If your book group would like to Skype with Laurie Viera Rigler (or do a conference call), please send us your request. She will do her best to accommodate you.

Send us a photo of your book group with one or more of Laurie’s books, and we will post it on the site here. Let us know if you would like personally inscribed bookplates for your copies.

Suggested questions for discussion:

1. 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?

“One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best.”–Admiral Croft, in Persuasion by Jane Austen

2. 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?

“…there is not one in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.” –Mary Crawford, in Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3. 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?

“Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it.” –Catherine Morland, in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

4. 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?

This was strange indeed! But strange things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out. –Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

5. 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?

…a sanguine temper, though for ever expecting more good than occurs, does not always pay for its hopes by any proportionate depression. It soon flies over the present failure, and begins to hope again. –Emma

6. 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?

“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first.” –Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

7. 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?

Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. –Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

[WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!] 8. 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?

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest. –Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

9. 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?

…I must endeavour to be satisfied with ignorance.” “Not that I shall, though,” she added to herself… –Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen