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Lost in Austen

Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure

Emma Campbell Webster - Author

Paperback | $15.00 | add to cart | view cart
ISBN 9781594482588 | 352 pages | 07 Aug 2007 | Riverhead | 8.26 x 5.23in | 18 - AND UP
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View our feature on Austen-inspired books and special content.

Bringing together Jane Austen's most beloved characters and storylines-a clever, playful, interactive, and highly entertaining approach to the wildly popular novels in which you, the reader, decide the outcome.

Name: Elizabeth Bennet.
Mission: To marry both prudently and for love.
How? It's entirely up to the reader.


The journey begins in Pride and Prejudice but quickly takes off on a whimsical Austen adventure of the reader's own creation. A series of choices leads the reader into the plots and romances of Austen's other works. Choosing to walk home from Netherfield Hall means falling into Sense and Sensibility and the infatuating spell of Mr. Willoughby. Accepting an invitation to Bath leads to Northanger Abbey and the beguiling Henry Tilney. And just where will Emma's Mr. Knightley fit in to the quest for a worthy husband? It's all up to the reader.

A labyrinth of love and lies, scandals and scoundrels, misfortunes and marriages, Lost in Austen will delight and challenge any Austen lover.

YOUR MISSION

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Austen heroine must be in want of a husband, and you are no exception. Christened Elizabeth Bennet, you are tolerably beautiful and moderately accomplished, with a sharp wit and quick mind. You are the daughter of misguided but well-meaning parents and live with them and your four sisters—Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia—in the village of Longbourn, near the town of Meryton. You are of a happy disposition and have hitherto whiled away your years reading, walking and enjoying what limited society Meryton has to offer. A recent event, however, threatens to disturb your tranquility: a man of large fortune has let a nearby manor house. Inconsequential though this change of circumstance appears, it is the first in a long chain of events that will require you to face difficult decisions and impolite dance partners. Equipped with only your wit and natural good sense, your mission is to marry both prudently and for love, eluding undesirable suitors and avoiding family scandals which would almost certainly ruin any hope of a financially advantageous marriage for you or any of your sisters.

HOW TO PLAY

This book is no ordinary book, and should not be read through from beginning to end. It contains many different adventures, and the path you take will depend on the choices you make along the way. The success (or failure!) of your mission will depend on the decisions you make, so think carefully before choosing....

While your choices will determine your journey, your success will also depend on how well you do in the following five categories: your Accomplishments, Intelligence, Confidence, Connections and Fortune (which could mean either luck or money). On separate pieces of paper, draw up lists for the five different categories. You begin with high scores for your Intelligence and Confidence (200 points each) but with a regrettably low Fortune score (only 50 points), and absolutely no Accomplishments or Connections. In order to increase your chances of marrying well you must try to improve your scores and gain more Connections and Accomplishments. At intervals during your adventure you will be given bonus opportunities to increase your scores by taking tests or answering questions. But take care! While you can gain points, you can also lose them, which could harm your chances of marrying happily and affect the outcome of your adventure.

If the mere suggestion of scorekeeping gives you palpitations, fear not; you can choose not to keep track of your scores if you so wish. When asked to check them, simply choose whichever score you fancy from one of the two options you are offered.

You may now begin your adventure. Good luck! Q: Why is Austen still so popular today?

A:
It’s a difficult question to answer as I think there are many reasons that all play a significant role in her continuing popularity. Of the canonised authors she is the most accessible which means she has been on the school curriculum for a long time. For this reason she is widely read and because she writes apparently simple (but in fact, complex and nuanced) stories with wit and sophistication she is read and re-read and enjoyed by readers of all levels who appreciate different aspects of her work at different times of their lives. She writes about the experience most common to all of us: finding a life partner – indeed, in modern times we go through that experience far more often than any of Austen’s characters or contemporaries. Because she remains on the curriculum she remains popular and producers continue to make adaptations of her work (and now her life too) because there’s a guaranteed audience; because producers continue to make adaptations of her work, she is even more accessible and remains popular and on the curriculum. In the end of course, it comes down to the fact that she wrote very good stories very, very well.

Q: Where did the idea for Lost in Austen come from?

A:
I’ve no idea! I was sitting in the library at college one day, trying to write an essay on Jane Austen I think, when I suddenly thought it would be very funny to write an interactive fiction version of Jane Austen’s works in which you’d make a wrong turn and end up slipping on the steps up to the Pump Room and breaking your neck or whatever. It was a couple of years before I actually got down to writing it though and it’s wonderful to see the idea realised.

Q: Is it fair to say you are an Austen fanatic?

A:
I certainly admire Jane Austen’s works, but I’m not a fanatic and I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever met one. There is this stereotype of the Austen fan who reads and re-reads Austen’s works but never manages to get married and ends up an old woman living with her hundred cats in the middle of nowhere and only ever gets out to go to Bath and drink tea in the Austen tea shop and buy Mr. Darcy soaps or whatever. Maybe such an Austen fan exists but all of the Austen appreciators I’ve met have been highly intelligent, dynamic women, many of them eminent scholars. I’m neither the fanatic who buys Jane Austen action figures and goes to the Jane Austen theme park, nor am I the eminent scholar. I do, however, immensely enjoy reading Jane Austen’s books as you can probably tell!

Q: What do you think Jane Austen would make of all the Austen spin-offs that have been written in recent years?

A:
I’m sure she’d be astonished to see just how many there were but I can’t say what she’d think of them. As for what she’d think of Lost in Austen, I like to think that she’d find it at least slightly amusing. I picked up on and exploited a particular strand of the comedy in her work, namely the humour that comes from placing a very moderately accomplished and, some might say, socially disadvantaged character in amongst characters who are only too quick to point out, wherever possible, just how poorly accomplished, unattractive, poorly educated and poorly connected they are! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so perhaps Austen would be flattered? Oh, who am I kidding? I’m sure she’d think it a complete travesty! I hope she’d forgive me.


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