Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Review: Pride & Prejudice



It's done, over, through...I saved the last chapter as long as I could.  After a rocky start I have finished reading Pride & Prejudice, a book I took on as a challenge from 5 Minutes For Books.  I read a lot of classics in my years as an English major in college, but never did crease the pages of anything from Jane Austen.  I will say this book was quite enjoyable and well worth the time afforded it, but not anything as I imagined it would be.  I guess I pictured a frilly tale of romance filled with vivid descriptions of picturesque country settings, great manors and flowing ball gowns.  And while all those elements were in the book, the emphasis was not placed on their renderings.  Instead, I found a book about thoughts, feelings, judgements of character, any and everything to do with what is found in that organ above our necks.  At first this was a little off-putting.  I have become accustomed to plot and action and characters that jump off the page.  And some may argue with me that these characters do distinguish themselves.  Well, I say yes, they are memorable, but not in the concrete way I am used to...the descriptions of them are sparse as far as what they look like.  We do, however, get ample knowledge of their character traits.

  • "Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve and caprice..."
  • Of Mrs. Bennet..."She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper."

We know little of how they actually look, if they are fat, skinny, blonde, bald, etc.  and yet we come away with a clear picture in our minds of who they are, and in this I applaud Austen's  writing abilities. 

A little side note...I often am immersed in a book while my husband is in the room with me, either watching t.v., on the computer, or sleeping lol.  I can usually tune out his activities or more often just join in conversation with him without losing interest in my book.  Not so with Miss Austen.  I kept asking dh to turn down the t.v. (he has a bit of a hearing problem and needs it loud) or was slow in responding to his remarks.  He asked why once, so I read him a passage from the book. 

"Mr. Darcy stood near them in silent indignation at such a mode of passing the evening, to the exclusion of all conversation, and was too much engrossed by his own thoughts to perceive that Sir William Lucas was his neighbour, till Sir William thus began."

  Dh thinks for a minute and gives his interpretation..."He didn't like to dance and was deep in thought and didn't notice the other dude walk up to him."  Of course, we laughed and went on for quite a few pages like this, me reading a passage and him giving his rendition of it.  Very fun.  :)

Some other passages I made note of while reading (in a conversation between Jane and Elizabeth) "We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing."  And in a scene where Mr. Bennet reads a letter from Mr. Collins (talking about how to treat his daughter and her lover who eloped) "You ought certainly to forgive them as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing."  To which Mr. Bennet replies "That is his notion of Christian forgiveness!"  Amen, Mr. Bennet.

All in all, great book, can certainly see why it's a classic, and I'm glad I put in the little extra effort to read it.  Which kind of depresses me, since when I was younger and in college I didn't have to put so much effort into reading such a book.  Ah, just love aging lol. :)

UPDATE:  I wrote this review right after I finished the book.  Since then I have rented the movie version with Keira Knightly (or however you spell it.)  Pretty good, very romantic, book was better, and I'm not so sure about the whole "Sixteen Candles" type ending.


  1. I love yours and your husband's little game. Yes, I had to concentrate much harder -- at least until I really got into the style and the plot started pulling me along.

  2. You have got to get the A&E movie version! It follows the book so closely. I think you will really like it.

  3. Ditto to what Lauren said! This time around I was struck by how sarcastic Mr Bennet was and do not know how I missed it before.

  4. What fun to read the impressions of one who had no idea what to expect! I too love Austen's insight into the thoughts and prejudices of her characters, so evident in what you quoted here. Thanks for participating!

    Oh, by the way, I loved the Keira movie, but you MUST see the A&E miniseries!

  5. That's so wierd. I always found all of Austen's work to be extraorinarily easy to read. Now Charlotte Bronte on the other hand, urgh.

  6. I definitely think that you're right that this novel is not a frilly romance, as the movies of Austen novels might lead us to suspect!


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