Coming to you live from my favorite easy chair in suburban Maryland, it’s . . . Meg, the fantastic pneumonia-stricken blogger! Yes, folks, somehow I managed to catch a vicious cold in August that took about three seconds to settle into my chest. I’ve been home sick since Monday afternoon, and spent almost the entire weekend on the couch before that.
I know, I know — when you want free time and days off to do whatever you want, you never get them. And when you finally have an endless day spreading out before you — no responsibilities, no obligations — you’re way too sick and miserable to enjoy it.
Thus has been my predicament. I’ve napped, gone through two boxes of tissues, watched hours of mindless redecorating shows in between doubling over with coughing fits and generally hated life.
Until the mail came yesterday.
Yes, Netflix has done it again — delivered into my feverish hands was the ultimate salvation: “Lost In Austen,” a three-hour British miniseries I put in my queue months ago and finally received. Suddenly those hours staring me angrily in the face evaporated as I got totally caught up in this thoroughly entertaining romp of a romance.
We open on modern-day Londoner Amanda Price, a young woman working a soul-sucking job and dulling the pain of a dreadfully boring relationship by reading her beloved Pride & Prejudice time and again. It was easy for me to relate to Amanda’s plight and sympathize with her — in fact, I loved Amanda’s character. I found myself rooting for her constantly, especially after one Elizabeth Bennet appears in her bathtub.
Now here’s where we set out of the realm of logic and just enjoy ourselves. A passageway opens up in Amanda’s flat, allowing Elizabeth to escape her life at Longbourn and Amanda to step into the Bennets’ home — 200 years in the past.
Before Amanda can begin to loudly question her own sanity, Elizabeth slams the door shut — keeping her twenty-first-century counterpart firmly in the past. Slowly, Amanda begins to realize that she actually has walked into Pride & Prejudice and, as she gleefully says to Mr. Bennet, “We really are at the beginning, aren’t we?” There is not yet any Mr. Bingley or, more alluringly, Mr. Darcy — Mrs. Bennet has just begun busting Mr. Bennet’s chops about how he won’t go over and scope things out on behalf of his five daughters and meddlesome wife.
Of course, Amanda has a panic attack. Nothing’s making any sense. The door in the Bennets’ attic is firmly shut, and Elizabeth responds to nothing Amanda shouts at her. And when Mr. Bingley does come ’round, the real trouble begins.
It doesn’t take Amanda long to realize that her presence, ignorance and lack of genteel manners have done more than just upset Mrs. Bennet’s delicate sensibilities — she’s actually changing the course of her beloved novel. Mr. Bingley only has eyes for her, not Jane Bennet, and Mr. Darcy never gets a chance to snub Elizabeth at a ball — because Elizabeth simply isn’t there. Only Amanda — with her lip gloss, blunt haircut and curious modern slang — stands in her place, drawing attention everywhere she goes — especially from snobbish Caroline Bingley.
All of our favorite characters are here, and I found the actors portraying them to be refreshing. I loved seeing a truly disgusting and contemptible Mr. Collins and a handsome, rakish but charismatic George Wickham (I must admit that I found George alluring!). “Lost In Austen” takes the original plot we all love so well and expands on it, giving us some background information on many of the story’s major players that was fascinating to me. As Amanda is unable to return home, her presence in the country changes everything — and watching characters make very different choices was really fun, if heart-breaking at times.
Oh, yes — and then there’s Darcy. I can’t say I prefer this incarnation of him better than any of the others, but this Fitzwilliam was definitely stubborn, self-righteous and infuriating . . . and the blossoming romance felt authentic. I genuinely wasn’t sure how the story would end, and I was pleased with how it all turned out!
Jane Austen fans will be pleased at a chance to live out the fantasy of so many women — meeting “the real” Mr. Darcy. Spending time in Regency England and modern-day London was, for me, especially exciting. Seeing a woman from our time struggling to keep up with the myriad social customs of which she’d only read about in books was funny, and I can only imagine how an American woman landing there would have fared! Not well, I’m sure. Although if it were me, I could try and fake a mean British accent!
I loved the musical scores, too — why do films based on Jane Austen’s works or Austen herself all have such great soundtracks? “Becoming Jane” is easily one of my favorites, and the music from “Pride & Prejudice” (2005) was awesome, too.
Three hours went by in a feverish flash — and I can only sigh with happiness and say thank you to the Lords of Netflix for making sure this series landed in my lap at just the right time.