Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
Goodreads Summary: “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.
This was my first time reading Pride & Prejudice all the way through. I remember beginning it when I was younger and being unable to make it through the language and giving up on it. But this book is so beloved that I knew I wanted to give it a try again. I’d also been putting it off because so many people loved the experience of reading it for the first time and I anticipated feeling the same and didn’t want that to be over once I’d read it.
So I picked this book up fully intending to fall in love with it and have a huge book hangover. It took me some time to get really sucked in but I definitely loved the book and it now holds a very fond place in my heart.
There’s really not much I can say because so many people have already read the book. I have seen the BBC miniseries many times in the past so I already felt familiar with the story and knew how it would end. I’m really glad I watched that though and having read the book I have a newfound appreciation for how good that series is and how true to the book. I think I might have missed out on some of the nuances of the book if I hadn’t seen the show.
So I realize my reading experience wasn’t entirely pure. I imagined all the actors in their various roles as I read. But just reading the book was such a pleasure and the writing is so well done and easy to read. There were a few parts where I had to go back and re-read carefully to catch the full meaning. But these were few and far between.
I was also a bit skeptical about the great love between Elizabeth and Darcy which is often the thing most people remember from the book. On my reading I don’t think it was the main plot point though. Of course the book is a commentary on society and values and that was really at the center of it. But it’s hard not to get swept up in their story and really want them to be together!
So all in all I absolutely loved this book! I’m so glad I read it and I can definitely see myself re-reading it at some point in the future. Although I know most of the stories of Austen’s other books, I’m not looking forward to reading the rest of them for the first time!
My Rating: ★★★★★