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Lost in Austen

If you enjoyed Bridget Jones’s Diary, it is more than probable that you will find the new ITV British television series Lost in Austen excessively diverting. Lost in Austen aired in the UK in September and in Canada on the new Canadian channel Viva in November. As actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays Mr. Bennet, asserts, “rest assured, it’s a very affectionate tribute.” But the tribute is more to the modern fans of Pride and Prejudice than it is to Jane Austen or to her novel. At the beginning of the four part series, our twenty-first century heroine Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) declares “it is a truth generally acknowledged that we are all longing to escape.” In Amanda’s case, she wishes to evade her dead end job, her depressed mother, her dreary flat and her oafish boyfriend. Escape she does by obsessively re-reading Pride and Prejudice and by overdosing on the Colin Firth film. Just when it seems that Amanda’s life could not possibly become anymore unromantic and grim, she is offered the alternative of her dreams. A time travel swap leaves Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton) in Amanda’s flat in Hammersmith and our thoroughly modern Amanda in the Bennets’ home at Longbourn where the Bennet family is all abuzz with the news that Netherfield Park is let at last. Amanda is delighted to meet all and sundry characters, but she finds that her twenty-first century social skills make her quite an oddity in Regency society. The amusing Mr. Bennet and kindly

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