Random Thoughts on Lost in Austen

A friend, Kate in Norfolk (England), has been telling about Lost in Austen. She is such a witty and charming letter writer! Kate now allows us to post her comments. A few small spoilers might get mentioned along the way, so be warned:

Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008
We have a new TV series here – Lost in Austen. Recorded the first part last night but haven’t seen it yet. The clips look lovely. It is something to do with a modern girl being transported back in time in a fictional way and living with the Bennets. I will report more in due course. Costumes etc. looked good.

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008
You must tell them about our new TV series. I have seen the first episode now. It is quite fun as obviously the heroine is a 21st century girl and so there is the fish-out-of-water amusement. I am enjoying Mr Bennet played by Hugh Bonneville. He just seems mildly perplexed by all the women around him but largely ignores them. He also winds them up whenever possible! Mrs Bennet has been treated in a very interesting way. She is like a mad chicken. However, it becomes clear that the 21st century girl has caught Mr Bingley’s eye and she is incandescent with rage that her daughters have been bypassed. She takes the girl aside at one point and is really vicious, practically threatens her with violence if she doesn’t stand aside! The viewer would turn against her at this point I think, I was quite shocked at this display. However, this does open up some interesting considerations. Mr Bennet – does he care that once he is dead and gone his daughters will suffer financially etc. He seems determined to have a peaceful life and ignore what will happen after his death because then it won’t affect him….is he inherently selfish? Does he have his head in the sand? Does this mean that Mrs Bennet has had to take onto her shoulders all the worries about the future and her daughters’ happiness? So is she then a rather good mother doing her best for her family? She certainly seems driven by desperation, and events later in the book confirm this I think. What the TV show will do I can’t say! Elizabeth is stuck in the 21st century but we have seen nothing of her yet – maybe tonight’s episode…

Date: Sat 13 Sep 2008
I do agree that if you label anything with Jane Austen it will sell! That is why we have our strange time travelling Lost in Austen I guess. I have seen the second part now and we still don’t know how Elizabeth Bennet is managing in modern times. I am still undecided about the whole thing. Modern Heroine borrows clothes when she goes to balls but doesn’t put her hair up – there is no way she would have got away with that. There is a lot of suspension of belief necessary! Now Jane has married Mr Collins despite Modern Heroine having previously engaged herself to him in order to try and protect the Bennet girls. Modern heroine is extremely annoyed that the plot of P&P is not being adhered to and when she sees Bingley at the church looking on in horror as the wedding takes place she marches up to him and remonstrates with him for listening to Darcy’s reservations about the Bennets. She says:
“Badly done, Bingley, badly done”! So that amused me as I wondered how many viewers would recognise it!
Must stop telling you the plot in case you get to see it one day. Didn’t know it was based on a book – will have to investigate. I do have to say that Mr Darcy has smouldered in a very successful way!

Date: Mon 15 Sep 2008
Well, please feel free to use my Lost in Austen comments as you see fit! It is going down quite well over here. The acting is generally very good. I do like little Mary Bennet, they have made her almost a caricature with specs and a little plain face but she looks really sweet to me. Modern Heroine has already told Wickham that she knows all about him so he has spread gossip everywhere to the effect that her father is a fishmonger! People are rapidly backing away and making fishy comments! She keeps going back to the attic where there is a (firmly locked) “door” to her world, where Elizabeth is. She calls through to Elizabeth who fails to answer – “It’s all going tits up, Elizabeth” she yells. And she has kneed Mr Collins in the balls at a ball. It is almost as if you are reading the book and when you hate the very idea of Mr Collins, Modern Heroine assaults him for you! My mother is not yet convinced that the concept works.

Date: Thurs 18 Sep 2008
I have another Lost in Austen to watch and admit I am now hooked. The conversation is quite witty:
Modern Heroine upon sighting Wickham: “Oh No! You keep away from me Wickham, I know you”.
Wickham, perplexed: “But, Madam, I haven’t had the pleasure…”
Modern Heroine stomping off: “Get used to that”.
I think the series will bear a second watch because sometimes the conversation is fast and whilst chuckling at early chatter, later witticisms can be missed. I am now wondering whether they can do this for other novels! Imagine the Modern Heroine telling Marianne to buck up or advising Emma to stop interfering!

Date: Fri 19 Sep 2008
Yes, please do what you like with the Lost in Austen comments – I am quite happy for you put them on the blog. Apparently the viewing figures have fallen off possibly because the series doesn’t work if you don’t know P&P quite well. You need to know why Modern Heroine is unfriendly to Wickham and warns Lydia to stay away for instance. Best scene this episode is the meeting with Lady Catherine who instructs her daughter to sit next to Modern Heroine at dinner as it will do her good to learn to converse with those with whom she has nothing in common. Such strange plots twists now (Wickham didn’t seduce Darcy’s sister, twas the other way round!) that I can only assume it will all turn out to have been a dream in a shower a la Dallas. Which could make sense actually as the “time travel” occurred in Modern Heroine’s bathroom which is where we last saw Elizabeth. I am very happy with the casting of this series by the way. Jane could be a bit prettier but she is very delicate looking and has big frightened eyes (tho as she is now married to hideous Collins that is understandable; incidentally, he is on a celibacy kick (thank goodness) so she is as yet untouched so obviously there will be a plot device to send her into Bingley’s arms). Mr and Mrs B are great – Mr B very funny. Mary and Kitty moan that they are not in society like their Mother and Lydia and Mr B says that those two are quite enough for society has enough to cope with at the moment. Darcy, at first, seemed a bit odd, but have grown to like him (where have I heard that before!) – quite handsome. Mr Collins is foul so that works well! Miss Bingley is very snooty and conniving but in quite a witty and intelligent way. They all have such marvellous conversation and condescension.

More to come, as the series continues and concludes. Thanks, Kate!

BTW: here’s the Internet Movie Database link; ITV’s link; and author Emma Campbell Webster‘s page at Penguin.US and her own website.

3 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Lost in Austen

  1. Pingback: The Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere « Austenprose

  2. Pingback: Lost in Austen – the (US?) DVD « Jane Austen in Vermont

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