Sunday, December 4, 2011

(Book review) Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure

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.”
-back cover

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:
Love of Walking
Speaks Fluent French
Screen-covering skills
Highly Observant
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
Incredibly Nosy
Blind Partiality
Willful Prejudice
Poorly Timed Liveliness
Ill-timed Sense of Humour
Deplorable Weakness for Gothic Literature
No Governess
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
Shameless Vanity

Mr. Collins
Mary Bennet
Charlotte Lucas
Mr. Wickham

Charlotte Lucas
Distant Cousin in Grosvenor Street
Mr. Wickham
The Tilneys

Starting: 50
Highest: 200
Lowest: -100 (or 0, depending on how you play)
Ending: 200

Starting: 200
Highest: 210
Lowest: -180 (or 0)
Ending: 0

Starting: 200
Highest: 350
Lowest: 0
Ending: 270

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! 


Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

I had heard of the Lost in Austen book before. It does sound interesting, though. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Miss Dashwood said...

Sadly my library does not have a copy... but it sounds delightful! I tried a couple Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was in fifth grade, but I got tired of them fast. I don't think I'd ever get tired of a Jane Austen-themed one, though.

Yeah, I think I would be like you and accept Mr. Knightley instead of Mr. Darcy. :) Haha, I can see how going to NA would definitely deduct Intelligence and Confidence points, though it's rather sad that you can't marry Mr. Tilney! :(

And it's not possible to marry Edward Ferrars!?!?!? Never mind, I don't want to read this book after all.

Kidding. I'm kidding.

p.s. My word verification is "sword"--unusual, it's almost never a real word!

Jessica said...

Sounds interesting! :-)

Melody said...

Miss Dashwood,
What a pity! But, just so you know, it's not a 'Choose Your Own Adventure'. I've seen those books on a library shelf, but don't really know what they are; all I know is that this isn't it. It's 'Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure' which is just part of the title, not a series. ;-)

Yeah, I thought Lizzy and Henry might make a good match...they'd tease each other to death, though. But, when I think about it, actually, I think Mr. Knightley WOULD be a good match for Elizabeth. I've been reading Emma, and actually, some things he says sound exactly like something Elizabeth might have said - his sense of humour, that is.

I know, I rarely have real words either - and I apologise for the word verification...if I could leave it off, I would, but when I tried I got some spam comments. :-/ So that was the end of that.

Miss Elizabeth and Jessica,
It is quite interesting! =) Thanks for commenting.

Hayden said...

Oh, that sounds like such a fun book! I'll have to see if I can find it anywhere :)

Maria Elisabeth said...

That sounds very interesting. I've just ordered it from the library and I hope it'll get here soon!

It is sad that you can't get to marry Henry Tilney, but I'm glad there are options to marry Capt. Wentworth and Mr. Knightley.

But if you married Mr. Knightley what would happen to Emma? Would she be forever heartbroken or would she (oh horrors) marry Mr. Darcy?

Melody said...

Let me know if you do! =)

Maria Elisabeth,
Well, actually, there isn't really an Emma. Elizabeth is the Emma. All the sudden Mr. Knightley is a near neighbor whom the Bennets have known for years - and oh, what's more, Maria Lucas turns into Harriet Smith! ha ha!
Well, actually, there is a point where you can meet Emma, but if you get to that section you'll end up failing. So, yeah.

Emma and Mr. Darcy!!! Hahaha! That's an extremely unlikely match! I just can't picture it... Lizzy and Knightley yes...but... wow. Emma and Darcy.
I don't think so. Ha

That would be interesting fanfiction...mixing up the heroes and heroines...;-)

Miss E said...

Oooh I just wrote down this title to buy once I get an Amazon account :-D It looks simply brilliant!

Would you rather hear the story...

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