Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Book Review: Lost In Austen

In the middle of July, a lady named Catherine, from Riverhead Trade publishing company, e-mailed and asked if I would like to receive an advance copy of Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Watson, a Brit who graduated from Oxford, where she specialized in Jane Austen. I said I would be delighted and have since received the book and read it.

Lost in Austen is, as the subtitle suggests, a sort of "choose your own adventure" book. I remember reading them when I was younger, but none were as amusing as this!

As the press release says:

As Elizabeth Bennet, you the reader control the story, and thus the outcome of the book. For example, a wrong turn on the way to Netherfield takes you into a Sense and Sensibility landscape where you meet, fall in love with, and are forsaken by John Willoughby; accept an invitation to Bath, and you could find yourself in Northhanger Abbey, where the beguiling Henry Tilney makes you an offer you won’t want to refuse.
You can read the book in two ways: play along with the game and keep track of your scores, or just read it and choose whichever option you prefer, without reference to points. I chose to play and keep track of my scores. At the beginning, the author recommends the reader keep track of five categories: Accomplishments, Intelligence, Confidence, Connections, and Fortune on separate slips of paper (or at least sides of paper), as you will be writing a lot of numbers. Alongside Accomplishments, you also keep track of your failures. Your Connections are split between "Superior" and "Inferior." As you read, you make choices, gain points, subtract points, and discover your accomplishments, failings, superior and inferior connections. Your score can vary wildly, as your feelings of intelligence and confidence, etc., do in real life. Sometimes you come across a question or a little quiz, and the answer you choose nets you a certain number of points or causes you to lose points.

Webster followed Pride and Prejudice quite closely and based the points off of the novel (and other J.A. novels). I only once ran across characters from another novel, but when I skimmed through saw some very interesting references to other J.A. books. I really felt like I was reading Jane's novel, but with a super little game thrown in. It was great fun to keep track of my points (even when I was deep in the negatives!) and try to decide how to behave as Elizabeth Bennet.

In the end, I was successful and achieved a prudent marriage and lovematch with none other than Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, my Dream Man!

Lost in Austen could easily be played with another person (or a couple of Janeites!). It is a very amusing novel and I highly recommend it to any Jane Austen fan (or anyone who might be interested in becoming a Janeite!). I look forward to reading it again and creating another adventure. You will be able to find Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster at any bookstore beginning 7 August 2007. If you buy it, please do let us know what you think!

Book Information: Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster (ISBN: 978-1594482588; 7 August 2007; $14.00; paperback)

My Book and Notes


Dapoppins said...

That book looks like a ton of fun. Something for girlfriends.

Lady Jane said...

It was so much fun! I can't wait to play again with my friend, Lady Lori! She loves Austen too!