Pride and Prejudice by J. Austen

Recently I challenged myself to start adding more classic literature into my reading rotation.  So when I got my Kindle and saw all of the free classics that I could download, I thought it was time to get started.  The first one I chose to read was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I always love a good romance so I thought it would be a good place to begin.

Few have failed to be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet. Her early determination to dislike Mr. Darcy is a prejudice only matched by the folly of his arrogant pride. Their first impressions give way to true feelings in a comedy profoundly concerned with happiness and how it might be achieved.

First published in 1813, it goes without saying that Pride and Prejudice was written very differently than all books today, not to mention romances.  The first thing I noticed about it was that they spend an awful lot of time talking about their own manners and each others.  Another strange thing is how proper names are used when referring to the characters.  It took me a little to sort out who was who due to lack of first names (the book does call some of the characters by their first names, but it’s less than I would have liked).  For this reason, it initially took me a few chapters to get into the book.  However, once I did, I have to admit that I loved it.

Pride and Prejudice is a love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.  From the moment they meet at a ball thrown by Mr. Darcy’s friend Charles Bingley, it’s a hate – hate relationship that slowly grows into so much more.  I truly loved reading about the transformation of their relationship since they had much to overcome, especially “pride and prejudice” due to false accusations and each characters stature in life.  I must confess that once I got into the book I found it hard to put down.  I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen between Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam.  Would they really get past everything and be together?

In all honesty there are a lot of characters in Pride and Prejudice that I couldn’t stand.  From Mr. Collins constantly patting himself on the back; her sister Lydia who’s selfish actions nearly ruins her family; Mrs. Bennet basically throwing her daughters at available men, not to mention the unreasonable way she treats Elizabeth.  I wanted so badly to see these and a handful of other characters knocked down a few pegs.  Did that happen?  Well you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Other than Elizabeth’s relationship with Mr. Darcy there are two other relationships that I loved in this book.  Elizabeth with her sister Jane and her Aunt Mrs. Gardiner.  Both are great confidants to her and an excellent support system.  Whereas some people liked to judge Elizabeth harshly because she was more prone to speak her mind, both of these women were always there for her when she needed them.  I always enjoyed reading Elizabeth’s interactions with each of them.

I think it is a true testament to what a great writer Austen was because she made me so invested in the characters.  Whether I loved them or hated them, I found that I was very interested in the fate of each and every one of them.  Like I said before, once I got past the old fashioned way the book was written, I couldn’t help but enjoy it.  If you can hold out a few chapters, to allow yourself to adjust, I think that Pride and Prejudice is definitely worth it.  It was charming to read an old fashioned love story…so different from the wonderfully trashy kind we read now-a-days (which I also love).  In light of this I hope you decide to give it a try…I’m glad I did!

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  1. A while back I also decided that I should read some classic literature. The one that blew my socks off with the best writing ever was Lady Chatterley’s Lover. If you haven’t already read that it is fantastic.

  2. I have to support Mrs. Bennett, at least a little.
    She’s in an terrible position. She feels she’s let her husband down by giving him only daughters and now she has five. Mr. Bennett is okay,he has everything he needs until he dies, but when he does, his wife and daughters will get nothing. Nothing. In those days that meant destitution, poverty. Many people fell that way, and ended up literally dying on the streets.
    The whole estate is entailed, which means he can’t will any of it away. Collins gets the lot. Therefore, if one of the five marries Collins, she’ll be able to support her sisters.
    Mr. Bennett behaves incredibly selfishly, retreating to his library instead of helping his wife. She might be a silly woman, but she does the best she can. She teaches them good manners, and she tries to give them opportunities. She’s a desperate woman and it’s all down to her, since Mr. Bennett only moves a finger when she virtually begs him to.

    Recommendations? Try Bleak House, my favorite Dickens. Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, Nicholas Nickleby – Dickens’ exuberance and his sheer control of language is astonishing. Read the first page of Bleak House online. Unbelievable.

    Anna Karenina – a woman pitted against society. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce – astonishing control and command of words. I love Ulysses, but it’s best not to start there. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressel. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe. Evelina by Fanny Burney. And see what you think of Wuthering Heights.

  3. Well done, Jackie! What readers sometimes don’t catch is the satirical under-note of Austen’s book. This is a love story, yes, but it is also an observation of the absurdities of society and the people who moving through it. The whole book is almost like a dance, isn’t it?

    And kudos for working on the classics. I’ve been making an effort to get back to them. My favorite, and I recommend it to you, is Jane Eyre. I also loved Anna Karenina, but I wouldn’t recommend something that long for you, with your second on the way.

  4. Bethany: Thanks for the recommendation! I just found it on Amazon for .95 cents! I can’t wait to read it!

    Lynne: I agree with you on Mrs. Bennett. Perhaps I did judge her a bit harshly, but I would’ve liked to see her be a little more poised and less melodramatic. LOL As for teaching her kids manners…well some of them. Lyidia and Kitty, for a while, were definitely lacking! LOL Thank you for all of the recommendations! I will definitely give some if not most a try! I already have Wuthering Heights on my “to read” list…I can’t wait to read it!

    Michele: Actually it’s me who wrote this review. ;) Thank you for your kinds words. The book is definitely like a dance! What a great way of looking at it. I already have Jane Eyre on my “to read” list. Thanks for the recommendation, though! :)

  5. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s one of my favorites so I have a big soft spot for this one. Austen is such a wonderful writer and it’s more than just romance that makes her great.

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