In honor of Book Rat's Jane in June, I thought I would chat today about Lost in Austen. If you haven't seen it, there may be slight spoilers below so reader, please beware.
To start off, I love the concept of Lost in Austen. Time travel has intrigued me since my first viewing of Somewhere in Time (and I have seen it many, many times since) and as most everyone here knows, I love all things Pride and Prejudice. Win-win, right?
Well, not so much. At least not at first.
Let's just get the gripes out of the way, shall we? Upon first viewing, I didn't care for Amanda Price. At all. She struck me as an absolute whiner and I just couldn't identify with her. I didn't understand how someone who realizes they have managed to travel back in time to the fictional Bennet household and who harbored a self-professed Pride and Prejudice obsession could make the many mistakes, both in conduct and P&P storyline, that she did. And this is coming from someone (me, obviously) who can easily and quickly buy into the character, any character, not only traveling through time but into a fictional household. Hmph.
Moving on to the Bennet family. My only complaint about them was their apparent lack of shock, surprise or puzzlement over Amanda. Not just Amanda showing up, unannounced and unaccompanied, in their house, having never seen or heard of her before but also Amanda's attire and her general appearance. Remember, this was a time when ladies had long hair that was put up, not a shaggy cut right above the shoulders and bangs. And leather jackets and jeans had yet to make an appearance, and would not for quite some time.
I also took issue with Mr. Darcy developing feelings for Amanda. Part of this may be chalked up to the fact that I am a massive Darcy-Elizabeth 'shipper and it seemed flat out sacrilege to have Darcy with anyone else but even letting go of that for a moment, I just didn't see how Darcy, with his upbringing and social mores, could remotely consider Amanda for one moment.
The liberties Lost in Austen took with some characters I found horrifying, as I imagine many Austen purists might. Not just mere rewriting of Pride and Prejudice but total and complete personality changes and distortions.
Now, on to the better part. What I recognized on my second viewing. Because it took a second viewing for me to appreciate what Lost in Austen offers.
I still wasn't crazy about Amanda. But perhaps I understood her better. Thrown into the Bennet household, unprepared and certainly not dressed for it, and knowing the outcome of the story, as well as the futures of each character, you can almost feel sympathetic for her. She is horrifically out of her element, where not even her usual method of dealing with stress (having a smoke) is tolerated or possible, and she feels the future of the literary world, not to mention the ire of the many Pride and Prejudice fans, rests squarely on her shoulders.
I did like Amanda's relationship with Jane and Jane's relationship with Elizabeth, which Jane spoke about. I also appreciated that this Jane was showcased very much as Austen's original Jane must have been intended - - without a mean spirited bone in her body. She's just caring enough and devoted enough to her family duty to not come off as a pushover. Her resignation in some scenes is palpable.
I liked Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy, even if he wasn't Colin Firth (my personal dream Darcy). He exemplified just the right mix of apparent haughtiness and pride to make it work. I found his scenes with Amanda believable, even if I still didn't particuarly care for them together.
The way the production was wrapped up was pleasing, although purists may feel faint with the very differing conclusions to this version's resolution versus Ms. Austen's.
In short, I felt Lost in Austen was an interesting and, yes, even worthy addition to the library of Austen sequels - - but only after a second viewing. Is it the best? No. But it's certainly worth a nice afternoon or evening of Austen-inspired time.