Literary Pop: Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen
Nationality: English
Year: 1813

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Since my movie reviews have become much scarcer now I’m on something of a literary mission, it only seems right to drop in a book review where appropriate. I’m still a little rusty at these, especially when the novel is something as iconic as Pride and Prejudice, but I can only get better through practice (I reckon). Book reviews are apparently a thing kids do at school regularly but I’m sure that I never did more than one or two in my lifetime so I apologise if I don’t seem to know what I’m talking about. I first picked up Pride and Prejudice a couple of years ago and ended up putting it down again barely a chapter in; there was something about the writing style that I just couldn’t come to terms with. On the strong recommendation of my Austen-loving girlfriend I gave it another go and quickly became accustomed to the delicate, humorous prose.

Pride and PrejudiceFor those of you who don’t know (i.e. me, this time last week), Pride and Prejudice is (broadly speaking) the tale of young Elizabeth Bennet, who can perfectly judge someone within an instant, and her acquaintances with the noble Mr. Darcy, who knows himself to be better than everyone else. The two may be destined for each other, but only if they can break free from the chains of the titular vices. Elizabeth’s Hertfordshire household consists of her rational father, irrational mother, and four sisters: Jane, the admirable and optimistic eldest, closest friend to 21-year-old Eliza (the second-born), then Mary, the boring, inconsequential middle child. Bringing up the rear are Kitty and Lydia, the troublesome younger duo who take after their mother The majority of the narrative is concerned with the various friendships, courtships and marriages of the Bennet girls (except of course Mary) and their neighbours, strongly encouraged by Mrs. Bennet when her daughters are the beneficiaries and opposed when not. Potential suitors include Misters Bingley, Wickham and Collins, each with their own benefits and drawbacks; it soon becomes clear that some people have vastly different reasons for marriage than others. Regardless, it’s safe to say that the novel comes to a satisfying conclusion as far as the vast majority of characters are concerned, although in many ways the end feels more like a new beginning.

Having been encouraged to give Pride and Prejudice another try, I’m definitely glad that I did. The relatively large number of important characters means that it takes a little time to settle in, and as this was my first (and definitely not my last) Austen the writing style was a little unusual to me but soon became humorous and agreeable. It’s undeniably intelligent, and very different from most anything I’ve read before. I definitely need to give a few more of her novels a go, as well as the BBC miniseries of this one that I’ve heard so much about (although Colin Firth as Darcy doesn’t seem to quite fit in my head). The book was oddly alien to me to begin with, but I soon began to appreciate its very obvious Britishness. We’ve got a lot of things to be proud of on this little island, and literature, including apparently Miss Austen, is a big one.

My Rating: 8.5/10