In today’s post, I’d like to share with you another visual piece of fantasy. This time, it’s the very funny British mini-series Lost In Austen. Check out this link to the trailer for an idea of what it’s like.
If you haven’t read the novel, you are probably familiar in one way or another with the story of the middle-class but poor Bennet family, living in Regency England and trying to find wealthy husbands for the five daughters. There are so many versions, not only of the original story but updates and even turning it into the paranormal(Pride And Prejudice And Zombies). Among the updates are a Bollywood version, Bride And Prejudice(the Bennets are a modern Indian family, the Bakshis) and Bridget Jones’ Diary. I’m not surprised. This is, for my money, the most enjoyable of Austen’s novels and the easiest to digest if you’re not familiar with the fiction of the era.
Lost In Austen tells the story of modern woman Amanda Price, a great fan of Pride And Prejudice. She has read it over and over, to escape from a dull and dreary life. One night, she finds Elizabeth Bennet, heroine of the Austen novel, in her bathroom. Apparently she has found her way through via a hallway in her home, Longbourn. Amanda goes through the door to look and the door closes on her. She is trapped in Regency England - the England of a novel!
Telling the Bennets that she is a friend of Elizabeth’s, she is allowed to stay, though Mrs Bennet is suspicious of her. This is the beginning of the novel. Elizabeth hasn’t yet met Darcy.
As you can imagine, Amanda stuffs up the storyline - and finds it getting worse and worse as she tries to fix it. Among other things, she finds out that Wickham, the villain of the original story, is not as bad as he was written. Meanwhile, as she also learns, Elizabeth has got a job as a nanny in modern London and acquired a mobile phone...
I own a copy of the DVD and have played it many times. It is hilarious. (If you’ve seen Colin Firth emerging from a pond in his wet clothes, there is a particular scene in this that will give you a good laugh.)
If you enjoy Dr Who, Alex Kingston, who plays Mrs Bennet, may be better known to you as the wonderful Dr River Song. But she makes a very good Mrs Bennet too!
Another story with “Lost” in the title is Jasper Fforde’s Lost In A Good Book, second in the Thursday Next series that started with The Eyre Affair.
You do have to love books and especially the classics to get the most out of this series, though it’s funny anyway, and over the top. Imagine a universe in which fact and fiction mix and it’s an everyday thing to travel to the worlds of fiction. Literary detective Thursday Next lives in Swindon, has a pet dodo and is part of a group who have to sort out problems caused to the worlds of novels. Fictional people mix with real ones. In this novel, for example, Thursday’s boss is Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. There is a huge amount of punning going on in these books.
There are a couple of spinoffs, The Big Overeasy and The Fourth Bear, the Nursery Crimes novels. They’re written as police procedurals, but in a world where characters are from nursery rhymes, including the hero, DCI Jack Spratt. In the first one, he is investigating the murder of Humpty Dumpty. Apparently, this was his first novel, but he couldn’t sell it till the Thursday Next books were a hit, and even so, he rewrote it a lot.
All these are available on line.