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Disillusioned with both her boyfriend and her life in London, Amanda Price discovers Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom. Soon she finds herself swapping places with Elizabeth and entering the ‘real’ fictional world of Pride and Prejudice. How will she keep the greatest love story of all time on track when Elizabeth Bennet is stuck in the modern world...?
Lost in Austen puts an interesting spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Set up like Life on Mars meets The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lost in Austen sees young Amanda Price, from modern day Hammersmith, swapping places with Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Price has always been an Austen fan and when Elizabeth Bennet suddenly appears in her bathroom, explaining that she's come through a mysterious door from her world, the two end up accidentally swapping places.
What Price finds is a world very similar, but not identical, to the book she loves so much. She soon fits into polite society as Lady Price of Hammersmith, claiming that Elizabeth and her have been friends for years and that the two got their wires crossed on agreeing to spend some time together - Elizabeth is in Hammersmith visiting Price, while she has travelled to the Longbourn estate to stay with Elizabeth.
And as Price interacts with the characters she soon starts to mess up the relationships she knows are formed in the book. Then, like Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies, Price tries to get those couples together in order that the the story unfolds as it does in the novel. But how can she get Mr Darcy and Elizabeth together when Elizbeth isn't even around?
The first episode was not as tight or well scripted as it could have been. I didn't believe that Price would really yearn for total peace and quiet so that she could read Pride and Prejudice once again for the umpteenth time. While later events make it imperative that she's been familiar with the book from an early age, I thought a more believable way of introducing this would have been to have the story start with the funeral of Price's father or mother. Then, as she's going through their possessions, she finds a copy of Pride and Prejudice and remembers how her recently departed parent used to read the book to her every night. She's not read it for ages, so takes the book and starts reading - getting engrossed in it once again. Now I'd believe that she wants to shut herself away from the world and reread the book. And, once she's finished reading it, then Elizabeth should appear.
Fans of the book will find plenty here to smile about, but equally those unfamiliar with the book won't be out of their depth - as the narrative explains everything you need to know. Thankfully this is done well enough that those that know the book won't be annoyed by the constant explanations.
What's even more interesting is that some of the characters, who appeared in a certain light in the book, are shown to be totally different in 'reality'. Without spoiling too much... one particular character, who is shown to be an evil manipulator in the book, turns out to be someone of great honour - keeping the true facts of events to themselves in order to protect the honour of another.
In the way of extras we get a behind the scenes featurette (43 min, 21 sec) which is very interesting. This contains interviews with cast and crew as well as a look at how the Longbourn estate was constructed (from an empty, rundown estate).
I wasn't entirely sure why this release was spread across two DVDs - the four episodes are only 45 mins apiece and if you include the extra that makes five x 45 min segments. A lot of discs of American shows have 5 or 6 x 45 min episodes on a single disc, so I'm not sure why ITV DVD released this as a twin disc set. It's not even as though it's been done to make more money, as a single disc release would still be worth £20.
Lost in Austen is a well written, nicely constructed tale, that will be welcomed by Austen fans, as well as those who don't normally enjoy period dramas.
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