Friday, April 9, 2010

In the otter-strewn thoroughfares of Hammersmith

I'd imagine that most readers have occasionally run across a fictional character that they'd love to spend time with. Thanks to a certain Mr. Firth's recent portrayal, most women would probably like that character to be Mr. Darcy. In the 2008 mini-series Lost in Austen, Amanda Price gets her wish. Obsessed with the book Pride and Prejudice, she would rather spend her time re-reading the story than working out her problems with her slacker boyfriend. One day, much to her astonishment, she comes across Lizzie Bennett, the main character from the novel, in her bathroom playing with the electric lights. Lizzie informs Amanda that she entered the 21st century through a previously unknown door through the shower. The door opens onto the hallway outside Lizzie's bedroom in 18th century England.

Intrigued, Amanda goes through the door and enters Lizzie's world. She knows the people of the house and the events of the novel intimately, so she is thrilled to be immersed in the manners and society of her dreams. Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan. She is alarmed when the neighbor Bingley, who is destined to marry Lizzie's sister Jane, listens to his friend Darcy's warning that the Bennett sisters are all gold-digging vipers. Amanda is further distressed when, to spare her family from the possibility of financial ruin, Jane agrees to marry not her true love Bingley, but her odious cousin Mr. Collins.

Darcy shows up and is, true to form, exceedingly proud and disdainful of most other people. Much to her surprise, Amanda's closest ally turns out to be the scoundrel Wickham (whose misdeeds, it turns out, were wildly exaggerated). Amanda tries numerous times to get back through the door into the present day, but is unable to return until she goes to Hammersmith. Once she does return, she is started to find that Darcy was able to follow her into modern day London. While trying to convince Lizzie, who has taken to modern life, to return to her family and marry Darcy, Amanda discovers that she has fallen for Darcy herself. Will she allow the events of the novel to play out as they should, or will she decide to rewrite the events of her favorite novel?

The series was very enjoyable, especially in seeing how the two girls who change places deal with lives very different than those they were used to. My favorite character by far was Lizzie's father, played by the wonderful Hugh Bonneville, who was exasperated with his wife's social climbing ways (and had all the best lines).

Final Verdict for Lost in Austen: Four Gherkins, for being an enjoyable look at a culture clash of massive proportions

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