Jul 7, 2008

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

As most of you no doubt know, Pride and Prejudice is the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters. The girls are being pressured by their mother to find husbands as soon as possible, and when a promising bachelor, Mr Bingley, moves to the neighbourhood, Mrs Bennet jumps at the chance to get one of her daughters married. There are financial reasons for her concerns. Because they had no sons, Mr Bennet’s estate is entailed to a cousin, the unpleasant and pompous Mr Collins. When the family gets acquainted with Mr Bingley, he immediately takes to Jane, the oldest Miss Bennet. As for his friend Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, well, things take a little longer to develop.

I never quite know what to say when posting about such popular and beloved classics. I suspect that everything that could possibly be said about this book has already been said. Still, here’s my take. I not only had never read this book before, but I’ve never seen a movie or TV adaptation either, so even though I knew how the story began and how it ended, I didn’t know much at all about what actually happened in between. And because I’ve seen the name Mr Darcy being used as synonym for Prince Charming, I was surprised to see how unpleasant he seemed at firs,t and how much Elizabeth disliked him! But of course, that’s what makes the story so interesting.

Jane Austen’s language is a delight, the characters are all fully believable, the dialogue is perfect, and the novel is so full of memorable little details. I loved all the things that were said about education and about different types of relationships. We have the examples of Jane and Mr Bingley, Lydia and Wickham, Charlotte and Mr Collins, Mr and Mrs Bennet, and of course, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. I do wish we’d had the chance to see more of their relationship once it starts to develop, though.

I can definitely see why Pride and Prejudice is still so appealing almost two centuries later. It was written at a time when women had to have financial concerns in mind when picking husbands, and yet it gives emphasis to the idea that a marriage without affection is not likely to bring anyone happiness. Several of the couples in the story exemplify just that. Socially speaking, they made the perfect match, and yet their lives were very far from perfect.

A question for Jane Austen fans: where do you think I should go next with her? I’m thinking of picking up Northanger Abbey. What do you recommend?

Other Blog Reviews:
A Fondness for Reading
Trish's Reading Nook
Books.Lists.Life
So Many Books, So Little Time
You Can Never Have Too Many Books (a very interesting post about the 1985 adaptation)
Savvy Verse & Wit
Rebecca Reads
5-Squared
Adventures in Reading
Becky's Book Reviews
Devourer of Books
Library Queue
The Bookworm
Fyrefly's Book Blog

(If you've reviewed it as well, please let me know so I can link to your review)

39 comments:

  1. I've seen the A&E production of this one and loved it. I don't know if I'd like the book though. I'm sure I would. I read Persuasion earlier this year and really enjoyed it, though I don't know if I could submerge myself in Austen like some people do...Eva is going to hang me for saying that :p I'm reading Northanger Abbey for the RIP challenge this year since it's supposed to have a gothic feel to it and I'm really excited about that!

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  2. You really can't go wrong with any of Austen's books, but you should definitely read Sense and Sensibility at some point.

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  3. Northanger Abbey is great because it isn't very well known. I reread Persuasion earlier this year and loved it!

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  4. Emma is another one I enjoyed. Now you can catch up on all the film versions of P&P. Colin Firth is the man as Darcy!

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  5. What a nice review, and I'm glad you liked the book! I find that I enjoy it and understand it in different ways each time I reread it. I don't think you can go wrong with reading any of her other ones next. I remember reading all of her books one lovely summer when my son was just a baby. Enjoy!

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  6. I liked P&P but I didn't really like Northanger Abbey. I didn't think it was the strongest.

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  7. Northanger and Persuasion are my two other favourites!! :)

    And I totally won't hang Chris, lol....I could never immerse myself in Orson Scott Card, so we're even. ;)

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  8. I can't believe you've never seen any of the film versions of her work! That's incredible. You simply must remedy that! Both the A&E version and the Keira Knightley versions of Pride and Prejudice are watched religiously around this house, as is Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility and Paltrow's Emma. Great stuff!

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  9. I'm glad you liked P & P! It's always great when a classic that you've heard about for years doesn't let you down! I enjoyed Northanger Abbey--if I remember correctly, Austen uses quite a bit of "tongue in cheek" throughout the book, which makes it even better!

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  10. After P&P I think I would either read Emma next, or Persuasion. Both are equally delightful.

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  11. This is one of my favourite stories, Nymeth! I watched the movie (the one featuring Keira Knightley) and it was great too! I'm definitely looking forward to reading Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility which are both in my TBR pile! :)

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  12. P&P is one of my favorite books of all time. Probably my favorite rereadable book. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Northanger Abbey is probably a good second Austen. I tried to go from P&P to Emma, and it didn't go so well.

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  13. I've tried reading Jane Austen years ago and just couldn't and have been trying to find the motivation to attempt it again. I think you helped :)

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  14. This is one of my favourite books of all times! After Pride and Prejudice you could read Sense and Sensibility, or Persuasion. They're both lovely.

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  15. I can't believe you've never seen a TV adaptation or movie of it either! You'll have to remedy that now!
    I think all the Austens are worth reading so you probably can't go too wrong whichever one you pick up next.

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  16. ah yes, Sense and Sensibility is one of my all time favorites of mine... but I think that has something to do with Alan Rickman , heh.. go figure huh?!

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  17. Here's the link to my review of this book:

    http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2008/02/classic-love-affair-and-commentary-on.html

    I think the next one you should pick up is Persuasion. That book is wonderful and Sense and Sensibility is my next favorite. But honestly, you can't go wrong with any of them. Northanger Abbey is great as well. Emma is my least favorite.

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  18. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of the Austen books I have read so far (that only being three). If you get a chance, I do recommend the BBC version of the series with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

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  19. My Romantic Lit prof had us read first The Italian by Ann Radcliffe and then Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen in order to better see how Austen was poking fun at the Gothic. It was an interesting way to approach Northanger Abbey (which I loved, by the way).

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  20. haha! i totally agree about the elizabeth and mr. darcy thing. i also so wished (and wish) that i could have seen more about what they were like after they got together.

    i haven't read any other austen myself and also don't know what to read following "pride and prejudice".

    i like "pride and prejudice" so much. its so easy to read, and fresh and breezy. and, of course, very sharp.

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  21. I found Northanger Abbey very annoying when I read it, but that's because I didn't realize at the time that it was meant to be a parody (as Terri B. points out a few comments above). Bear that in mind as you read it and I think you'll enjoy it.

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  22. Yey! You read P&P already! Lovely, lovely book! Now you should see the movie starring Keira Knightley! It was adapted well although I myself have been looking for the miniseries with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy to no avail.

    Emma would be a good choice. Sense and Sensibility as well. That ends my Austen books. Hahaha. I should finish up on Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park err, sometime in the future.

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  23. I read Sense & Sensibility next. I had a hard time getting into it, it wasn't quite as sharp as P&P. I'm working on Persuasion now, which I think has promise.

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  24. After P&P, Emma is my favorite Austen. She's so believable, and so likeable (even when she's being a snob and meddling with things that aren't her business). Plus, if you've seen Clueless, you have an idea of what it's like. :)

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  25. I'm glad you liked it! It's one of my all time favorites. I've never read Northanger Abbey, but I've heard from a couple of people who did that it isn't as enjoyable. I liked Sense & Sensibility and Emma a lot. I also read Persuasion at one point but can't remember anything about it.

    I also recommend you watch the A&E collection. It's really great. I also enjoyed the Keira Knightley version...it's a condensed version, but I thought it captured the spirit of the book really well.

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  26. I haven't read Northanger Abbey, but I enjoyed the version recently shown on PBS and would love to read your thoughts on it!

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  27. In addition to P&P, I've also read Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park. I enjoyed them both. I'd like to read Northanger Abbey soon.

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  28. I'm glad you enjoyed it and am amazed you managed to miss out on it for so long along with some of the great tv and film adaptations. My favourite is still the BBC series with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. I really must read some more of her novels as this is the only one I have read. I quite fancy Emma next.

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  29. I'd recommend reading each of her novels, but next I'd try Emma or Persuasion.

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  30. You'd better be careful, Austen's books can be very addicting...my favorite is Mansfield Park, but they're all wonderful...the BBC recently partnered with PBS to produce some very good adaptations of several of Miss Jane's novels

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  31. Thanks so much for the recommendations, everyone. It really sounds like it's hard to go wrong with her novels. I'm interested in Northanger Abbey because of the gothic and satiric elements. I'm planning on reading The Castle of Otranto for RIP. It'd be interesting to have a classic gothic novel to compare it with. And Emma! I kind of knew Clueless was a retelling of it but I had completely forgotten. I watched that movie so many times in my teens.
    I'm really looking forward to watching the recent movie and the BBC series now!

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  32. I'm like Carl, I have both editions of P&P - I love both for different reasons - and I've read the book many times. I love Austen! What would I recommend - my other favourite, Persuasion. *sigh* you get to read them for the first time :-) lucky you, and you have to watch the tv versions, because they bring that time period to life (BBC or ITV versions from England). they are all timeless. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading it so much! Oh, and I'm saving Northanger Abbey too for RIP 3 :-) (big hint here.....lol)

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  33. PS thanks for putting my post on already! And you're right, I always wanted more of them after she says yes, too . I think we are all romantics at heart :-)

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  34. Hi! Latecomer here, but I wanted to plug for Mansfield Park, which was my unexpected favorite. I actually read a pretty good critique of Austen called "A Fine Brush On Ivory" before I read any of the books (and quite by accident - I got it for my sister, who is a Janeite, and poured through the book before I gave it to her! I'd never been interested in Austen before.) However if you're thinking of Northanger Abbey, I also enjoyed that - thought it was perhaps her most directly comic/satiric work. I breezed through it, much to my surprise. Emma is actually my least favorite - I have a hard time liking Emma sometimes.

    Lovely blog! I popped over from somewhere i have never travelled.

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  35. Susan: That's a lot of votes for Persuasion! I must read that one. Well, it really sounds like I must read them all! And yes, I think we are :)

    Kate: Hello and thank you :) I hope you'll stop by again! Thanks for the recommendation.

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  36. I love Northanger Abbey and would recommend that, though most Janeites tend to go from PP to SS. (I had to reread SS at least twice before I got into it.)

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  37. Wow--after so many comments I'm not sure I'll be adding anything new, but I'm glad you liked this book and I too wish there had been a little bit more of their relationship at the end. I've seen the Kiera Knightley movie and really really liked it (there is a clip of the ending on the classics challenge blog).

    The only other book I've read by Austen is Northanger Abbey and it is crude compared to P&P (crude as in not as developed). But I still liked it. I hope to read Emma this year and maybe Sense and Sensibility.

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  38. Bookchronicle, thanks for the recommendation!

    Trish: I really need to rent the movie with Kiera Knightley, and soon!

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  39. I've seen movie versions of so many of Austen's books, but I've only read Emma. I'd love to read more of her work, as well as learn about her life. I know very little about her, but she sounds like an interesting woman. I think this fall might be a perfect time to settle down with Jane Austen and a good cup of tea.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.