Little Miss AustenI fear she might be. There has been much hype surrounding the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice this year, with the media endlessly banging on about how proud we should be of Austen’s most celebrated work of fiction. But I’m not so sure.

BB’s granny gave her a Little Miss Austen children’s version of the aforementioned tome for Christmas (pictured), purportedly a counting book from one to ten. But it’s the underlying message that alarms me.

It starts innocently enough, with number one representing ‘1 English village’. Nothing wrong with that. But then it starts to get more worrying. Number two represents ‘2 rich gentleman’ (below), number three ‘3 houses’ (mansions in fact), number four ‘4 marriage proposals’ (three of which involve Elizabeth Bennet, by the way), number seven ‘7 soldiers in uniform’, number nine ‘9 fancy ball gowns’ and number ten ‘10,000 pounds a year’.

2 rich gentlemenWhat is this telling her, exactly? That she should aspire to find a rich man with a huge house who will provide for her, get him to propose a couple of times while she parties with men in uniform dressed up to the nines in expensive dresses, while at the same time making sure that this man has an income of at least £10,000 a year.

I’m afraid she’ll be sorely disappointed. Not least because there’s no way £10,000 a year will buy any of those things.