(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Whenever anyone asked me if I'd read Pride and Prejudice, I'd always reply, "Yes, yes, of course!" Not because I was purposely trying to make myself sound more literary, but because I truly thought I had read Jane Austen's popular work. Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized during a recent "re-read" of the classic novel that I was actually experiencing it for the first time. My only excuse is that I did turn 40 not so very long ago and my memory just ain't what it used to be ...
For anyone who hasn't read P&P yet, or who wants to sound like they have without actually expending the time to do so, here's a brief plot summary:
The Bennets have been "blessed" with five charming daughters. As the family is not wealthy, it's imperative that the girls marry well. Their conniving, manipulative mother has made it the "business of her life" (11) to see them all paired off to rich, influential men. When Mrs. Bennet learns that nearby Netherfield Park has been let—and to an eligible bachelor of large fortune, no less—she determines to snag the unsuspecting Mr. Bingley for her eldest daughter. In the process of wooing him, the family is introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy, "the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world" (17). Although he and the amiable Bingley are best friends, the two are nothing alike. Much to the dismay of her mother, 22-year-old Elizabeth is drawn to the dark, broody stranger. As events spiral on, true natures are revealed and Lizzy finds that there is much more to the unpleasant Mr. Darcy than meets the eye ...
So much has been written about P&P that I'm not even going to attempt to wax eloquent about its many charms. Suffice it to say, Austen tells a delightful story full of warmth, wit, and wisdom. Its magic lies not in plot, but in its lively characters. Their interactions with each other teach great truths about human nature—and how little it's changed over the last 200 years. The flirtation, flattery, and finagling feel as modern as an iPhone 7. The novel's ability to transcend time is a large part of what makes it so appealing. The plethora of spin-offs that are still being created every year prove that today's readers respond just as heartily to the story as they always have.
Pride and Prejudice is not my favorite book in the whole world (that would be To Kill a Mockingbird); I'm not even sure it's my favorite Austen (I *think* I read Emma back in the day ...). Still, I enjoyed it. I read the Insight Edition from Bethany House, which is pictured above, and I'm not sure if this version's many footnotes added to the reading experience or distracted from it. If I were to read the novel again for the first time, I think I would choose an un-enhanced edition. The extra information in my book was fun, though.
Have you read Pride and Prejudice? Are you a die-hard Darcy girl? What's your favorite thing about the novel? What's the best spin-off you've read/seen? What do you think makes the story so enduring?
(Readalikes: Does anything else compare? Ideas?)
If this were a movie (and it is!), it would be rated:
for mild thematic elements
To the FTC, with love: This copy of Pride and Prejudice is from my personal library.