Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Pages: 375
Genre: Fiction, Classic
What you'll love: The ultimate love story.
What will bug y
ou: Time to settle into the language.

I'll admit it. I feel a little self conscious reviewing a classic like Pride and Prejudice.

I can't remember the first time I read this novel. I was living with Dennis, for sure - but we weren't married yet. It was before July, 2005 because that is the earliest entry in my
book journal and it's not written in there. What? Oh. Yes - I have a little book journal (my brother is rolling his eyes at my dorkish behavior). I just write down the titles and time the book is finished. It makes me feel like I've officially finished reading the book. Obsessive? Have I revealed too much? :)

Anyway, the point of that previous paragraph is this; as I have gotten older, I am able to appreciate this novel muc
h more. After reading multiple Jane Austen novels I find it easier and easier to let myself slip into the language, which can be daunting the first time you read her. I feel the same way about Tolkein - beautiful language, but it's an adjustment.

I just love this book. It is the ultimate love story. It's not racy, there is no physical intimacy, no one is having sex or going out for drinks. They are writing letters, stealing glan
ces, professing love and asking for marriage. I'm not saying I want to go back to this. Now, I think that we enter marriage with a lot more knowledge of the person we are devoting ourselves to - and I like it that way.

What I'm saying is maybe there should be more letter writing. I think one of reasons this novel has stood the test of time is that it shows romance in its simplest form. When Mr. Darcy reveals his love to Elizabeth Bennet and she refuses him, what is more riveting? When Elizabeth reads Mr. Darcy's letter, how does yo
ur heart not melt? When they finally come together I want to shout "What are you waiting for?! KISS HIM!" but somehow I think that if she had, it would not have been the same.

I've heard it said that for many women, Mr. Darcy has ruined their love lives by creating this ultimate person who is impossible to measure up to. Personally, I would not go quite that far, but close. He's what my friend Gabby calls dreamy. H
e is confident and handsome. He loves fiercely and deeply. He cares for and loves his little sister. When you accuse him of his faults, he thinks on it, writes you a beautiful letter explaining himself, and works on himself to change.

In many reviews I have read of Pride and Prejudice there is a lot of focus on Mr. Darcy. Let's talk about Elizabeth Bennet. I adore her just as much as I adore Mr. Darcy (...but perhaps in a slightly different way). I think Austen was ahead of her time by creating
a character who is headstrong and speaks her mind. She does not accept marriage proposals just for the sake of being married. (Especially the proposal by Mr. Collins - he's got some issues. Does anyone else find his obsessiveness over Lady Catherine strange and creepy?) She is a true heroine.

I cannot im
agine myself in this time period. I'd like to visit it, but not stay permanently. I find myself smiling while reading about their dinner parties and card games - I suppose when you don't have youtube and Xbox these social gatherings get pretty drawn out.

A few thoughts on the other characters -

Jane is just plain sweet - I would love to have her as a sister.

Mrs. Bennet. Oh geez. Jess over at "Tangled Up in Blue" wrote a character connection this week about Mrs. Bennet. She's lady you love to hate. (Mrs. Bennet, not Jess!) The wom
an is tactless and frivolous. If she were alive today she would have long artificial fingernails, make expensive lunch plans with friends (to show off her new shoes or handbag), and obsess over reality TV.

Mr. Wickham is so slick. He's a handsome frat boy - everyone loves him, but not the kind of guy you want to have a relationship with.

Lydia makes me laugh. If she were alive today, she'd be partying during Spring Break and accidentally wind up on a "Girls Gone Wild" video. I find her character so comic - a perfect balance to the strong love story going on between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Bingley is just as sweet as Jane. I think he could stand to have a little more of a backbone
and not let Mr. Darcy sweep him away with ridiculous concerns - but then we would have no story, would we?

Thank you to Misty at Book Rat for hosting "Jane in June" - thus giving me the push I needed to reread this classic!





12 comments:

  1. Wow this review really makes me want to reread Pride and Prejudice. I haven't read it since high school but the Austens that I have read since I've been a little older (Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility) I absolutely love. Maybe I should give P&P another chance.

    Thanks for the great review. Oh - and I think it's cool you have a book journal :)

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  2. I love your personalized review :)

    "After reading multiple Jane Austen novels I find it easier and easier to let myself slip into the language, which can be daunting the first time you read her."
    So true! Which is why I often tell people who've put off Austen after a first reading, to give her another go.

    'He loves fiercely and deeply. "
    Definitely true about Darcy! Though Captain Wentworth qualifies in these same criteria too :)

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  3. Thanks again for the mention! :)

    This is a great review! I especially liked your comparison of some of the characters to how they'd be today.

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  4. What a fantastic and thoughtful review - your love for the book really sings through!

    Lovely review, thanks for sharing

    Hannah

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  5. I loved reading your review! I have read most of Austen's books but my danged ol' literary amnesia just kind of makes them all run together, which is quite unfortunate.

    I see you have The Historian in your TBR pile. I read that fairly recently (probably 1 1/2 to 2 years ago, but pre-book-blog) and I look forward to hearing your take on it.

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  6. Great review Kate! Every year come MCAS time, I read a short excerpt from P&P with my students and watch the movie version with Kiera Knightly. I'm continuously shocked and pleased by how much my students end up LOVING it. I'm always tempted to attempt reading the entire novel with them, but am worried it would a.) overwhelm my not so strong readers and b.) take the entire year to finish. But anyhow, I think the fact that a group of somewhat jaded fifteen year-olds, who spend way too much time text messaging in class, can be so enthralled by an old-fashioned romance is a testament to the story.

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  7. I have yet to read it, but it's now heading to the top of my list... :)

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  8. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Brenna - I'm glad you support my book journal! :)

    Kals - Cpt. Wentworth is from...? I am blanking! I've read P&P, S&S, and Mansfield Park.

    Kathy - What did you think of "The Historian"? It's a chunkster... hopefully it's worth the time?

    Summer - I need to rent the movie. I'm glad your students like it - I think that it's pretty accessible once you get through the language, so for your students hopefully the excerpt will get them wanting to read it!

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  9. This was a beautiful review! P&P is timeless and you are absolutely right when you say that it is the ultimate love story! Looking forward to your other Austen reviews :)

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  10. i love the way you describe the characters as if they are people you met in the coffee shop this morning. it shows how truly current this book is!

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  11. Wellllll . . . I wasn't going to tell you what I thought of The Historian until after you read it, because I didn't want to make you dread it, but I felt like I had to slog through that one. It was very well written, and an interesting story, and not boring . . . yet somehow it was very easy to put down and very hard to pick back up again. You might as well go on and start it right away, because it's going to be a while ;) Who knows, maybe it will fly by for you. *crossing fingers*

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  12. Oh yes, there should be more letter writing for sure! Like you, I like the way things are now, relationships-wise, but it's a pity that little things like that are being lost.

    I always feel self-conscious too when reviewing widely beloved classics, but I think you did a fantastic job, Kate :)

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