Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure

“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.”

How could I possibly resist this blurb on the back of Emma Campbell Webster’s novel Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure? As a child, I was a huge fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure series (and still lament its demise) and eagerly jumped into this grown-up, literary version.

Although the book is essentially a retelling of all Austen’s novels, Campbell Webster adds clever commentary and re-imagines what would have happened if Elizabeth Bennet had married Willoughby or Mr. Knightley rather than Mr. Darcy. Her portrait of other Austen heroines isn’t always flattering, and Elizabeth’s fate often ends in marital failure (or worse), but the novel is meant to be all in good fun.

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