Even though I’ve known about this miniseries for ages, I haven’t watched it until now. The tipping point was when I saw some stills and the actors cast to play Darcy and Bingley just looked so… right for their roles that I thought maybe it wasn’t going to be as silly as I thought.
On the negative side, and one of the main reasons I put it off for so long was (don’t laugh) the main character’s hair! I know the point of Amanda’s look is that she doesn’t quite fit in in the early 1800s, but there’s no way she could have waltzed around looking like that in the Regency era and not raised any suspicion. Just no way.
Anyway, I got brave and put my fear of a hairstyle aside and watched.
And I enjoyed it a million times more than I thought I would.
Lost in Austen requires you to put any sort of believability aside and go along for the ride. Pride and Prejudice obsessed modern woman Amanda Price finds Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom one night; there’s a portal connecting her reality with Jane Austen’s world.
Amanda finds herself stepping over the bathtub and into the top floor of the Bennet house. Then the door closes, with her on the Bennet side and Lizzie in 2008, and there they stay.
This is the most enchanting part of the entire production.
Never has there been a moment for Jane Austen fans like this one: it looks like a fairy tale, but if you were given the chance, would you really want to live in it?
The casting is spectacularly good, as far as I’m concerned. The Bennet girls seem more like the ages they’re supposed to be than in any other adaptation (expect maybe the 2005 movie version). The father (who Downton Abbey fans will recognise – but I still know him as the guy who conducted the wedding for the Vicar of Dibley!) makes a great Mr Bennet, and Alex Kingston might be the best thing in the whole production as Mrs Bennet. She gave that woman some depth! Elizabeth has one of the smallest roles in the show, which I’m surprised to be disappointed about. I haven’t liked Gemma Arterton in other things, but she was so good as Lizzie I didn’t even recognise her.
This first instalment takes us up to the Meryton Assembly Hall, where Amanda manages to make a mess of the story Austen wrote, attracting Bingley instead of Jane doing the honours.
In all, this is excellent fun. I don’t find it at all disrespectful to Austen’s work. Sure, there are some glaring anachronisms, but it wasn’t too bad yet (I might have a couple of grumbles later on)!