Author: Emma Campbell Webster
(Note: this book has absolutely nothing to do with the movie Lost in Austen.)
“Your name: Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry both prudently and for love, avoiding family scandal. Equipped with only your sharp wit, natural good sense, and tolerable beauty, you must navigate your way through a variety of decisions that will determine your own romantic (and financial) fate. Ever wonder what would happen if Elizabeth accepted Mr Darcy’s proposal the first time around? Or ran from his arms into those of Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth? Now is your chance to find out.”
This is a really fun book. (Don’t let the rather odd front cover mislead you.) I first heard about it from a friend who picked it up at a yard sale. Knowing how much I like Jane Austen, she said she’d let me borrow it, but I found it at the library anyways.
This book almost reminds me of a computer game. You start out in Pride and Prejudice, then depending on what decisions you make, you turn the pages for different results. You can get caught up with characters in other Jane Austen novels, as well as a little bit of the author’s own life. If you continue on (neither failing the mission or marrying), you get back to Pride and Prejudice and can sort of weave in and out. During the whole thing, you keep a list of Accomplishments, Failings, and Connections, as well as keeping a score for Fortune, Intelligence, and Confidence.
I was so excited when I first got this book! It was so much fun living at Longbourn, dancing with Mr. Darcy, taking a trip to Bath with my sister Jane instead of her going to London with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner; there meeting Henry and Eleanor Tilney, and taking a trip to Northanger Abbey. (A heads-up though – it’s actually not possible to marry Mr. Tilney [I know, I know…] and you just end up deducting a lot of Intelligence and Confidence points. The detour was fun, nonetheless.) I ended up going into Emma, and having been proposed to by Mr. Knightley—well, how could I refuse him?—and I hadn’t seen Pemberley yet, so I wouldn’t have yet been in love with Mr. Darcy, and didn’t know he still card for me… so I married Mr. Knightley. The book didn’t exactly describe the ‘perfectly happy evermore’ that I would have liked, but I can draw my own conclusions.
So, here were my lists and scores at the end of my mission the first time around:
Speaks Fluent French
Reasonable Piano-Playing Skills
Once Spent the Day at Weston-super-Mare
Ability to Feign Interest in the Utterly Boring
Love of Walking
No Style, Taste, or Beauty
Insufficient Knowledge of Dancing
Poorly Timed Liveliness
Ill-timed Sense of Humour
Deplorable Weakness for Gothic Literature
All 5 Sisters Out at Once
Breathtakingly Poor Judge of Character
Blind, Partial, and Prejudiced, and Absurd
Lack of Influence
Reprehensively Remiss in Duties to Those Less Fortunate
Distant Cousin in Grosvenor Street
Lowest: -100 (or 0, depending on how you play)
Lowest: -180 (or 0)
And now, some words of wisdom.
It is not usually a good thing, actually, to have a high Intelligence score.
It’s pretty easy to fail your mission, so you may want to write page numbers down so you can go back easily.
If you make any decision significantly unlike what the heroine did in the book, you will end up failing and something extremely unlikely, out of character, or just plain weird will happen. (Like if you marry Mr. Collins, accept Mr. Darcy’s proposal for the first time, decide not to take Mr. Darcy’s letter, or even if you wait for Miss Tilney to inspect Mrs. Tilney’s room – that one is especially strange.)
I’ve noticed that all the stories are included in some form, but I so far I’ve only noticed the following heroes actually available to marry: Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Capt. Wentworth, and Col. Brandon.
I am currently still in my second time around. My goal this time is to get as many proposals and weave into as many stories as possible (except for Emma since that’s where I ended last time, and I just couldn’t bear to break Mr. Knightley’s heart) but end up marrying Mr. Darcy.
The newer version of this book is called Being Elizabeth Bennet: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure (pictured on the left).
I recommend this book to Janeites as a charming diversion. Let me know if you read it, and who you marry!