Courtney Stone loves the books written by Jane Austin. Whenever life gets bad, she looses herself in her favorite novels, daydreaming of a life in Regency England. After finding her fianc‚e with another woman, Courtney reverts to type and grabs her drink of choice and her favorite novels. What she doesn't expect to do is wake up in another woman's body in another time!
Some how Courtney ended up in Jane Mansfield's body, which didn't look anything, like Courtney's body. Not only that but Jane had been in an accident riding and the doctor knows that a good bleeding is what is needed. Suddenly Courtney not only has to deal with living someone else's life but she has to deal with the real Regency England, not the one she's read about in books. If she can't pull if off, she's been warned that she will be declared insane and put into an asylum.
When Courtney becomes Jane, she retains some of Jane's memories but not all of them. She is able to pull of being Jane by claiming amnesia due to Jane's head injury. What was interesting is like an amnesia victim, Courtney is able to do things that she didn't know how to do previously like embroidery and dancing. Courtney wasn't able to remember people or events though. As Jane's memories start making an appearance, the question is will Courtney loose her memories of the future or will the memories merge or will Courtney get to go home at some point?
Courtney's introduction to the real Regency England is so far removed from the romanticized image she had. The first thing she is made aware of is the lack of medical care. The doctor "treating" her has no idea of germs or modern medical practices. When all else fails, a little bloodletting will do the trick. Another thing that is almost immediately apparent is the lack of bathing or a lot of body odor. Bathing was a lot of work and deemed not very necessary. Most people just used some form of perfume to cover the smell. Courtney insists on bathing, but her maid will only allow her to do it twice a week and felt that this was too often. Courtney's shock of the lack of cleanliness continues to the waters in Bath and the traveling inns that she stops at.
One of Courtney's biggest problems was following all the rules she knew nothing about and didn't understand. Growing up in a society of equality of the sexes and no real social classes, Courtney has problems adjusting to servants can't be friends and you never talk to them unless you want something. The idea of being seen with a male that is not a relative as being totally wrong and compromising is a mystery. Even talking to ones peers is complexing in a society that doesn't seem to communication with words.
The character of Courtney/Jane is done very well. You can understand her desire to return to her life in the modern world and yet you can also understand the pull to stay in the past. Her character is very well developed as you follow her through her adventures.
I was a bit disappointed in the ending but it is logical. The premise in this book is Jane and Courtney changed places. Perhaps in the future, we can read of Jane's experiences of living the life of Courtney.
After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?
Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman's life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. But not even her level of Austen mania has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condom-less seducers, and marriages of convenience.
This looking-glass Austen world is not without its charms, however. There are journeys to Bath and London, balls in the Assembly Rooms, and the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who may not be a familiar species of philanderer after all. But when Courtney's borrowed brain serves up memories that are not her own, the ultimate identity crisis ensues. Will she ever get her real life back, and does she even want to?