Saturday, 9 October 2010

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Summary:

In Georgian England, Mrs. Bennet raises her five daughters Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia with the purpose of getting them married to a rich husband that can support the family. They are not from the upper class, and their house in Hertfordshire will be inherited by a distant cousin, Mr Collins, if Mr. Bennet dies. When the wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley and his best friend Mr. Darcy arrive in town to spend the summer in a mansion nearby their property, the shy and beautiful Jane falls in love for Mr. Bingley, while Lizzie finds Mr. Darcy a snobbish and proud man, and she swears to loathe him forever. This is the beginning of their wonderful love story.

My thoughts (how do I even begin to review such a classic novel...?!)

Pride and Prejudice is one of the classic novels of all time and one of the most read too and this is the first time I have read it. Many people would say that thirteen is a great age to start reading Austen and I agree! Upon snuggling up with Pride and Prejudice I was sucked into the beautiful time of Regency England, re created with Austen’s witty writing. I must admit that I did struggle a tiny bit with the writing for the first chapter or so but as I became absorbed, this was not a problem at all. In fact that is part of the beauty of the book!

Setting

I adore the Regency time period so Pride and Prejudice was definitely my kind of story: balls with endless dancing and beautiful dresses; gentlemen stood up for ladies and people knew their manners. I have always wanted to go to a formal ball just like the ones in this book all dressed up and dance the waltz, it would be so much fun! It’s not that I don’t like modern discos but I think I would enjoy a Regency ball much more. For me, Pride and Prejudice was the perfect escape from the 21st century.

Characters:

However, what really makes Pride and Prejudice stand out from the many other Regency books out there is the wonderful cast of characters and the humour so cleverly integrated within the story.
The Bennett family are extremely fun to read about and they are so diverse in their personalities; pretty, shy and gentle Jane who always tries to see the good in everyone; intelligent, confident and forthright Lizzy with a hot temper and a tendency to form prejudices; giggly, merry and frivolous Lydia; Kitty who is glued to Lydia’s side and does everything she does leading to silly behaviour; hard working, dutiful and studious Mary; honest and sensible Mr Bennett with a special fondness for Lizzie and flustered Mrs Bennett who is obsessed with marrying her daughters off well in whatever way she can and who is always talking about her ‘poor nerves.’

Lizzy is not perfect but none of the best characters ever are, I love the way she is not afraid to speak her own mind and has strong emotions which sometimes cause her temper to flair up but it is these same emotions that make her so loyal and loving to her friends and family. Whatever her flaws, she is a very likable character that I have a feeling is going to become an old friend to me when I read Pride and Prejudice again.

Mr Darcy is a fascinating character that is so easily mistaken for something he is not at the start when he comes across as abominably proud and disagreeable with not much to say to anyone which makes it seem as though he thinks he is superior to everyone else. Although it turns out that it is actually a cover for being uncomfortable and shy in society. He is also a very intelligent man that only speaks when there is something important to say which can make him seem very solitary. Inside, he is a loyal companion which is shown in his friendship with Charles Bingley.
The love between Darcy and Lizzie is so gorgeous and theirs is the first romance where the two characters didn’t like each other when they first met, providing the basic plot for countless other romances that have been written since. Their prejudiced opinions on each other are rather hilarious and I loved reading Lizzie’s teasing of him. When they eventually come together, you can really see how they fit together to make themselves better individuals. Their love is very natural and true- they are perfect together!

Verdict: Pride and Prejudice is a novel that I will be reading repeatedly and I think that I will enjoy it even more next time as I see how all of the parts of the story fit together. As you can see I have now joined the ever growing Austen fan base and look forward to reading her other novels as part of the 2010 Jane Austen challenge.
Movie Adaptations


This wallpaper is just too gorgeous,
each of the the girl's looks display their personalities really well.
I especially like Mary as she looks more studious than the
others but not ugly like in the 1995 P and P adaptation
Before I read it, I had seen the most recent movie adaptation starring Keira Knightly, which in some ways helped me to understand and visualise it better but without spoiling my own imaginings of the characters. It was only 2 hours whereas other versions have been TV series and are six but it focused more on the main story of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. I loved Keira Knightly as Lizzie; she had just the right expressions and conveyed her emotions perfectly. She is an extremely pretty girl but in the movie she also had some of the ‘plainness’ that is described in the book. I think that this movie is aimed more at younger viewers for an introduction to Pride and Prejudice as the producer said that they partly chose Knightly because the eight and nine year olds who fell in love with her in the Princess Diaries would be just the right age for it. As I have read on some Austen blogs, the period clothes are not as accurate as in other versions but I think that it has a sparkle that captures the fun of Pride and Prejudice exactly.

Lizzie's 'plain' kind of beauty captured
 perfectly

I have taken the 1995 version starring Collin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and am so far really enjoying it, especially as I can pick out the dialogue from the book now. Firth is a brilliant Darcy but I am not so sure about Ehle but I think she will grow on me. I can’t wait to watch more!

Collin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in
the 1995 adaptation







5 comments:

  1. Lovely write up of one of my favorite novels! I am now a follower of your blog! :)

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  2. Am continuing to read P&P over the weekend now that my Everest (Under the Dome) is over. The language can be a bit irksome but I am enjoying the humour, too :o)

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  3. So glad to see you so thoroughly enjoyed P&P! I first read it around twelve/thirteen as well (after seeing a movie version of it which I really enjoyed). I absolutely love the Regency period and attending a ball would be so fabulous!

    In terms of movie adaptations, the very first one I saw was an earlier version than either the Keira Knightley or Jennifer Ehle one. That said, my favorite is the 6-hour BBC one - it sticks so closely with the original book and Colin Firth really brings something new to the character of Darcy. (I have seen this adaptation so often I can quote sections of it practically verbatim, lol).

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  4. Oh, I agree with you about Mary in the movie! I never imagined she was ugly, just a bit more serious than her sisters.

    And I think you're right, it's hard when you try to review a classic. I read this one when I was fourteen and sometimes I'm still not sure I can explain how awesome it is.

    I hope you end up liking BBC's P&P, it's awesome - I highly recommend the BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensitivity (the recent one) it's lovely.

    Happy weekend

    Alex.
    (Came by the hop, btw).

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  5. The 1995 version, I personally think is slightly better to show you the plot when the Keira Knightly version is all about the way it looks and the romance.
    Ehle, I think, seems more like the Lizzie I imagined but then Keira Knightly may have had the role original and unlike Elhe.

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Stephanie x