Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Release Date: January 28, 1813
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”
So Audrey and I started our first month’s Classic Book Read and Review with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I am pleased to say we read this in a unique way by taking turns and reading it aloud to each other. It made it a fun experience. I’m not going to lie, some parts felt dry and long, and we were asking for some drama. However, many other times, we were laughing at the polite insults Jane Austen managed to ingrain into the dialogue. Reading aloud to each other, greatly encouraged us both to express our thoughts on the text and sometimes our confusion! Yes, this very proper, formal English often prompted us to re-read a section in order to discern its meaning. I think we both equally wanted to strangle Mrs. Bennet and disown Lydia. (I have taken the liberty of reminding my daughter just how lucky she is to have a mom that is so NOT like Mrs. Bennet.)
The book primarily revolves around two of the Bennet’s five daughters, Jane and Elizabeth and their navigation towards the main goal of society for every young woman during that time…to be introduced to wealthy gentlemen and eventually get one of them to propose marriage. I found both of these ladies quite likeable but I may have rolled my eyes at Jane’s naivety and cheered for Elizabeth’s sass more than once. The writing brought so many characters alive and made them distinct. Some of them were easily likeable (Mr. Bennet and Mr. Bingely) and some were cringe worthy (Mr. Collins).
I will just note that the creepy factor of cousins marrying and even those marriages being arranged by parents who were so consumed with a “good match” sent shivers up my arms…and dropped my jaw….and ewww! I actually never realized how often that must have happened and how not only acceptable it was during this time in history, but often encouraged! Yikes! I will gladly live in the 21st Century where science has taught us so much, including the negative effects of incest!
I am so glad to have read through the entire novel this time, (maybe the third try really is the charm) I am grateful to Audrey for reading it together. It was enjoyable and created some memorable moments for us both. I am looking forward to watching the movie Pride and Prejudice together now…and then Pride and Prejudice Zombies.