Pasadena author explores girl’s Austen odyssey
By MICHELLE J. MILLS, STAFF WRITER
It took Laurie Viera Rigler six years to write “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.” There was a lot of research to do about the famed author to put into the story of a modern L.A. girl who one day is transported to Austen’s early-19th-century world.
The problem for Rigler’s heroine, Courtney Stone, is that she is in somebody else’s body, where “the ultimate identity crisis ensues,” said the author, who lives in Pasadena with her husband, Thomas Rigler, and their tortoise shell cat, Phoebe Georgiana. And the story won’t be over for Courtney and Jane; Rigler is already at work on a sequel.
What’s the book about?
It’s the story of a 21st-century modern L.A. girl who loves Jane Austen and has often fantasized about being transported to Jane Austen’s world. One day she wakes up not only in Jane Austen’s time, but in somebody else’s body. My heroine finds herself drawn to and – at the same time – wary of two men, one in the 21st century and another in the 19th century. It’s a comedy, it’s a love story and it’s an exploration of identity and destiny.
What was your inspiration to write the book?
From reading Jane Austen’s six novels countless times and just thinking about her books, her stories
and her world. The idea for the book just came to me. I was standing in the kitchen of the house we used to live in in Highland Park and all of a sudden I saw Courtney, this modern L.A. woman, waking up in the body of a woman in Austen’s time. The character stayed with me, so I just started writing the story.
What kind of research did you do?
I read lots and lots of books on the period. I also went to England and went to Bath and London and some little country villages. I was hoping to look for a village that would be a model for the village where Courtney/Jane – Jane is the person she is in 1813 – might have lived. I took walking tours, e-mailed museum curators to check out details and enlisted a friend who is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America to read my drafts.
How, as an adult, did you become a Jane Austen fan?
“Sense and Sensibility” was the first book I read, and I got hooked. Something about those books just spoke to me. … I think the thing that keeps me coming back most of all is there is the amazingly keen and funny observation of human nature Jane Austen had. She was so ahead of her time. I like to say that I think of Jane Austen as a modern-day psychotherapist with a wicked sense of humor. …
Which Austen book is your favorite?
In “Pride and Prejudice,” there’s this great chemistry between Elizabeth and Darcy. They don’t like each other and then they like each other. They have all these preconceived notions about who they are. And “Persuasion” speaks to that universal longing we all have to right a wrong we did in our past or to undo a mistake we made. That book says you will always get a second chance.
How does the typical family in Austen’s time compare to today’s family?
A single woman may not have to live with her parents like you had to do in Jane Austen’s day, but in terms of the influence our families have on us, I don’t think things have changed all that much. A parent can have an enormous influence on you and live 3,000 miles away or not even be alive any more.
How do relationships compare then and now?
I love the freedom that I have as a woman today, but I think that Jane Austen was also lobbying very heavily for that freedom herself in her books. She was a big advocate in her novels and in her own personal life of marrying for love, but at the same time she was a practical woman and she understood that people have to have something to live on.
For more about “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict,” visit www.janeaustenaddict.com. Also visit the Jane Austen Society of North America at www.jasna.org.
(626) 962-8811 Ext. 2128<< Back