Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen
completed August 2010

The first time I read Pride and Prejudice was during the summer of 2002.  It was satisfying read but upon finishing it, I didn't give it much thought.  Fast forward six years.  My sister and my mom were telling me that I had to see the 2005 movie version with Keira Knightley because they had enjoyed it so much.  I didn't remember anything about the book so I thought I should read it again before seeing the movie.  During my second read, I was hooked.  I now own it and have read it many times since and it gets better each time.

As I said in a previous post, I just moved from California to the UK.  Most of my things are being shipped by sea, but I brought a few of my favorite books to enjoy before the rest arrived.  I had to pick up Pride and Prejudice again since it has been more than a year since I read it last.

The story focuses on the Bennett family, with their five daughters--Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia.  Because Mr. Bennet has no sons to inherit his estate, upon his death, it will pass to another male in the family, Mr. Collins.  This creates a desperate situation requiring the daughters to be married well.  Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry them off, and often pushes the boundaries of propriety in that effort.

Not much happens during the book.  Mostly they sit around and talk, but the characters and dialogue are what make this book so enjoyable.  They are so rich, and although they set in a story 200 years ago, they are still relevant.  We all know people like Mr. Collins the incredibly annoying social climber, Lydia the silly boy-crazy girl, Mrs. Bennet the overzealous embarrassing mother, and Lady Catherine the condescending know-it-all aristocrat.  They are all so irritating in the book but in a way that helps you appreciate Austen's wit.  Most of the humorous passages deal with their ridiculousness.

I love Elizabeth Bennet's and her liveliness.  Her banter with Mr. Darcy is so refreshing when compared to many of the other stuffy characters. I also love Mr. Darcy (I think I may have a crush on him).  He was prideful at the beginning, but I think he is greatly misunderstood. I think he is simply shy.  He even says in the book that it is not his talent to converse easily with those he has recently met.  I feel his pain.  I am incredibly shy and when I first meet people, I think they get the wrong impression of me.  Many mistake shyness in social settings with arrogance.  Trust me; it's not.

I would recommend Pride and Prejudice to everyone.  Much is said of the romance aspect of this book, but I think people sell this book short when they focus on that.  The social commentary and Austen's subtle humor add additional layers.  It is by far my favorite book and I will read it again and again.

As a side note, I didn't care much for the long BBC version with Colin Firth, but I loved the 2005 version. Matthew MacFadyen was incredible as Mr. Darcy.  I love Brenda Blethyn and she was perfect as the ridiculous Mrs. Bennet.  Tom Hollander stole the show with his portrayal of the socially awkward Mr. Collins.   I highly recommend the movie, but only after reading the book.


  1. I first read P&P in 2002 too! I loved it then and I think it definitely needs to be reread in 2011. Austen was a master of awkward interactions packed with tension, but still completely polite.

  2. Avid Reader--That is crazy that we read it for the first time in the same year! I think you'll enjoy rereading it. To me, it gets better each time.

  3. I so agree that it gets better!!! I read it last year for the first time and disliked it. Then I read it a couple weeks ago and LOVED it. Now I consider it a favorite.

    A book that can do that? Masterpiece.

  4. Jillian--I'm so glad that you gave it another chance. I didn't love it on first read either. I love that there's so many layers to the book that each time I see something new and wonderful about Austen's characters or writing.