Lieutenant Bennet's Visit

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Fanfiction
Title: Lieutenant Bennet's Visit
Author(s): Beatrice Otter
Date(s): 24 December 2010
Length: 3,200 words
Genre: crossover, fusion
Fandom: Pride and Prejudice/Temeraire
External Links: AO3; DW; ff.net

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Lieutenant Bennet's Visit is a popular short story by Beatrice Otter, which is a crossover or fusion between Pride and Prejudice and Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. It is significantly AU for P&P. It was written for Yuletide 2010 as a treat for Pentapus.

The story centres around Elizabeth Bennet, a lieutenant in the Aerial Corps who fights in the Napoleonic Wars as a member of a dragon-riding team. It envisages her visiting her home in Meryton for the first time in many years, and also features most of the rest of her family – particularly Jane, who is on the eve of marrying Charles Bingley – as well as Fitzwilliam Darcy.

No Temeraire characters appear and, apart from Elizabeth, the P&P characters remain within the conventional P&P universe. It can be enjoyed without knowledge of Temeraire beyond the broad premise. The Temeraire universe gives the author the opportunity to voice a feminist critique of Austen's world without seeming anachronistic, and this gives the story much of its impact. The contrast between the alternative-Elizabeth and her sisters, as well as the reader's imagined canon-Elizabeth, provides a source of humour.

Darcy & alt-Elizabeth fail to have any romantic interest in each other. Background pairings include the canonical Jane/Bingley, which occurs differently in the absence of Elizabeth, as well as mention of the non-canonical Mary/William Collins.

The story was first posted at Archive of Our Own within the Yuletide collection, and is also archived at Dreamwidth & FanFiction.Net. The author's summary is Elizabeth’s reality is far different from her sisters’. The story is rated teen by the author, but there is no explicit content.

Writing Process

Beatrice Otter writes:

And on December 24th ... I went through the Deary Yuletide Author letters, spotted a Temeraire/Pride and Prejudice crossover request, and threw something together in a couple of hours. Didn't even bother to get it betaed, because there wasn't time. So that's how Lieutenant Bennet's Visit came about, which is almost certainly the most popular thing I've ever written. I've got some story ideas for more stories in this line...[1]

"Lieutenant Bennet" series

There is a 2011 sequel, Darcy's Surprise, set more in the Temeraire universe, in which Darcy finds out Elizabeth's secret; the two stories form an open-ended series entitled "Lieutenant Bennet". Beatrice Otter created a Dreamwidth community (lieutenant_bennet) and an AO3 collection (Bennet's Covert) for the series, which are open to others who wish to create in the fusion verse. She writes:

Since my Yuletide story Lieutenant Bennet's Visit was so popular, and I've got a couple more ideas for stories in this universe which I'll be writing and I bet other people have more, I've created a Dreamwidth community (lieutenant_bennet) and an AO3 collection. Both are open to anyone who wants to write more stories in this 'verse. (Or, actually, any other Austen/Temeraire crossover. Was Lady Russell so disapproving of Captain Wentworth because he was an Aerial captain, instead of a Naval captain? Was Admiral Crawford so uncouth because he was in the Aerial Corps? When Napoleon invaded England did Marianne and Elinor have to defend their homes?)
Hope to see you all there![2]

Reception

"Lieutenant Bennet's Visit" was very well received and was among the hits of Yuletide 2010. It is one of the most popular P&P stories that does not pair Elizabeth with Darcy, as well as one of the more popular crossovers with a fandom outside Austen. As of 30 January 2014, it has 148 comments, 306 kudos & 62 bookmarks on AO3; it is the second most popular Temeraire work on that archive by number of kudos, as well as the 6th most popular P&P story. The story has been recommended at Fancake and elsewhere.

Reviewers praise the original premise and the seamless fusion of the two very different universes, and in particular the way that it gives Elizabeth a better outlet for her intelligence & energy than the novel. The thoughtful way in which the consequences of the AU are worked out for all of the P&P characters is also frequently highlighted, and readers enjoy the fixes for several characters. Many reviewers felt the story worked well without a Darcy/Elizabeth romance, although a few begged for D/E sequels.

Recs & Reviews

How entirely delightful! This sounds so much like the original, and is full of brilliant little flecks of colour when it comes to the setting and story. Elizabeth's handling of her situation is perfectly in character for her, as is her mother's response to it. (Staranise)[3]
A very clever re-envisioning of Pride and Prejudice--I love Elizabeth in this role. I'm dying for a sequel in which Elizabeth and Darcy get together and Georgiana is also secretly a dragon rider. :D (Bow)[3]
Ohh, this is utterly brilliant! I love Elizabeth's outsider perspective on her family and polite society. The re-versioning of Jane and Bingley's courtship is great, as is Elizabeth's encounter with Darcy. (Mermaid)[3]
every bit as charming as the crossover would suggest! (Meretricula)[4]
brilliant! I hardly need to say that the premise is great, but what I really love about this is how carefully you worked out what it would do to all the people of Pride and Prejudice -- your characterization is fantastic. (Elsane)[3]
LIZZY BENNET. DRAGONS. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? (Dira Sudis)[5]
This was so, so awesome. Like above commenters, if this story went on to be longer, I'm not sure if I'd want it to end up with Elizabeth & Darcy together, but then perversely, I would totally want them to at least interact a lot more, because I love the idea of Darcy having to deal with THIS Elizabeth, even more super challenging than regular Elizabeth! :D
All the little details were great too, like Elizabeth being nervous around horses, and the "cover story" of being a companion, etc. <3 (Liviapenn)[3]
And this is why I like the Temeraire universe much better than the history of our own. Elizabeth Bennet is the second lieutenant on a Longwing, apprenticed to her aunt. Her mother has no idea, and keeps trying to force propriety down her throat during her visit home. (Alara Rogers)[6]
This is AMAZING! One of the best Temeraire fics ever - who would have thought that these two fandoms would go so well together? ♥ (Esteliel)[7]
Pride and Prejudice and dragons, and of course Elizabeth Bennet makes an excellent second lieutenant for a Longwing. (fulselden)[8]
I would dearly, dearly love to see more of this! When I first heard of P&P&Zombies, I had hopes of something that would take the style and wit of Austen, merged into the horror/zombie genre. Instead, I got... what was published. *g* This, however, is exactly what I was hoping for, and my only point of dismay is that it ended far too soon for my preference (though was perfectly nicely ended, for the story itself). <3
Oh, and I forgot to add: I really liked how you kept Jane&Bingley's romance, and was delighted to see it happen through Mary marrying Collins, because it always seemed a bit odd to me that Austen didn't go that direction -- although Lizzy going to see Mary wouldn't have been that plausible, I suppose.... (Elynross)[3]
I LOVE IT. And you really went in the mechanics and the reality of it -- I love seeing her as a Lieutenant, on a dragon that already has an 'heir' and Elizabeth's pragmatic considerations of her own tenuous, future captaincy. While I, like many commenters, would eat up a longer, improbable, and very different romance between Darcy and Elizabeth, I am delighted that you did not go there in this piece. Using Darcy to highlight the very different worlds of canon Elizabeth and Temeraire Elizabeth was just one of the ways your story followed through on your fantastic summary. I also have to agree with many other people who have commented -- how much fun it was to see Lizzy getting to do something with her wit and intelligence. You can tell how well you've hit the right note on this fusion by how naturally she slides into that role.
In capslock, THIS IS EVERYTHING I HOPED FOR IN AN AUSTEN/TEMERAIRE X-OVER. SERIOUSLY, I HAVE WANTED SOMEONE TO WRITE THIS FOR SO LONG. <3 <3 (Pentapus)[3]
Captures the voice of Jane Austen perfectly. (snowynight at Fancake)[9]
This is Elizabeth Bennet, re-imagined as a member of the Corps and raised among dragons by her Aunt the Captain instead of gorwing up with her family. What's so fantastic about this short story is that it has a feeling of Elizabeth coming into her own: she was always just a little too constrained by her time period, and here you get a chance to see her forthright courage and cleverness used in a much better context. (Sorrel)[10]

References

  1. beatrice_otter: My Yuletide Fics (accessed 30 January 2014)
  2. beatrice_otter: Lieutenant Bennet (accessed 30 January 2014)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Comments on the Archive of Our Own version
  4. meretricula: in ur yuletide, makin it gay (accessed 30 January 2014)
  5. dira: Yuletide recs (accessed 30 January 2014)
  6. alara_r: Yuletide recs, maybe part one (accessed 30 January 2014)
  7. esteliel: More Yuletide recs (accessed 30 January 2014)
  8. fulselden: Yuletide Rec Post the Second (accessed 30 January 2014)
  9. Fancake: Pride & Prejudice/Temeraire: Lieutenant Bennet's Visit by beatrice_otter (accessed 30 January 2014)
  10. sorrel: Untitled post dated 17 May 2011 (accessed 30 January 2014)