Lest my friends and family bother to ask me what I thought about that TV show on this week, I will clarify my feelings once and for all. I am talking, of course, about Lost in Austen. I could only get about 3/4 of the way through.
It's utter pigswill.
I spent a good half hour last night ranting to D. about why I thought this, and other chick lit-y Jane Austen books (like this and this) give me the squicks. I won't repeat all my points, but Lost in Austen embodies everything I hate about the chick lit empire. First, as an aside, can I just say - leave Jane Austen the freak alone? Seriously. Her works are fabulous, amazing and wonderful. Her heroines, particularly Elizabeth Bennett, are everything literary heroines should be: intelligent, witty, opinionated and loveable with a wonderful sense of humor. I couldn't agree more with Jane herself when she says of Elizabeth, "I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know". So why do other authors think it's okay to piggyback on Jane's greatness? If it's the Regency period you're after, why not create new characters instead of bastardizing beloved ones? Heyer made a fantastic career out of it and you don't have to look further than Loretta Chase to see how wonderful Regency romances can be without Mr. Darcy.
I won't reiterate my points about why I loathe chick lit heroines*, but Amanda Price, the heroine of Lost in Austen, reads like my own personal checklist of chick lit hate. High-maintenance, semi-alcoholic glamour girl? Ding! Living an empty life in some London apartment? Ding! Lameass boyfriend who's over-the-top boorish to make the real hero seem so much better? Ding! Constantly saying stupid things and making mistakes to show how "cute" she is? Ding! Half-heartedly made to seem smart, even though we all know she's stupid and selfish? Ding! Being all Mary Sue and having every freaking guy fall in love with her, even though they never would have gone for someone as lame as her in the real 19th century? Ding! Yes, I believe it was at the point Mr. Bingley pulled Amanda outside at the Netherfield Ball to confess his undying love for her that I couldn't physically cringe any more and had to turn my computer off.
How the heck am I supposed to relate to a woman like that? I wouldn't be friends with her if you paid me, so how am I supposed to react to her coming in and interfering with favourite characters? How many times is my intelligence supposed to be insulted with this drivel that they throw at me, expecting me to like it because it's vaguely related to Austen? Don't give me a chocolate bar and tell me it's swiss truffle when it's cheap, crappy advent calendar chocolate and expect me to like it just because it's chocolate. Give me something edifying or don't make it at all. Pathetic. F-
Good god, what's next? Are we to have James Purefoy as Mr. Rochester, coming in through some hausfrau's kitchen and making sweet love to women in the 21st century? Oh, wait. That sounds pretty good. I'd watch that.
*Okay, maybe just a little bit. It boils down to this: I believe women are more than martini-drinking, shopaholic ditzes who spend their days chasing men. Maybe it's my own narcissism, but I wish the women in books were more like me. I want to see strong, intelligent, funny women actually doing important things in the real world. Women, we are capable of writing better stories about these kinds of heroines. We should not just demand them. We deserve them. I won't settle for less, but I fear that women have started to do just that. This being the case, I won't stop my crusade against chick lit until I start seeing a more realistic picture of women mirrored back to me.