“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Thus begins Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners. If you notice, the very first sentence itself is a masterpiece of tongue-in-cheek social commentary, and instantly paints a picture of the socio-cultural situation of the era.
You would think that it is representative of what is to follow; and to an extent, I would agree, but not really. It is just a very tiny glimpse of the mastery that Austen has over her craft. I could rave endlessly about the excellent plotting, or characterization, or even about how Austen’s wit and the wisdom reflects in the narrative. But I realize that anything that has to be said about this book, has already been said, in much fancier language than I can ever hope to express.
Nonetheless, I am not going to let that stop me from gushing over it, because this has been more than just a book for me – it has been an experience – a very special one.
And it is special for many reasons – for one, the language is delightful beyond comparison. I used to be intimidated by old texts as they are often dry and difficult to read, but I truly loved the way some words are used in this book, and wished language would still be dealt with in the same manner. But I also wonder – is it really the language of the era, or a superior skill of presentation that Austen possessed?
And secondly, I am amazed at how relatable and relevant this book is (even after 200 years of it being written!). The characters are interesting, the family dynamic is amusing, and kind of all over the place (but that is really how it is with all of us) – there’s love, loyalty, concern, annoyance, and exasperation even!
Having said that, the first half of the book was kind of a slow burner, and while it was still interesting, it was going nowhere fast. But I labored through it, and the book just got better and better! The romance between Mr. Darcy and Miss. Bennet is not one that I am going to forget anytime soon.
Here are 5 things that I LOVED about this book –
1. Let me begin with stating the obvious – I am in love with Miss. Bennet and Mr. Darcy. SHE is quirky, witty, independent, and while she prides herself in her sense of judgement, she is quick to accept her flaws. And HE is just…wonderful; I don’t know how I can really add to the mass adoration that he receives, except probably admit that, yes, he is all that and a bag of chips! I heart them both. <3
2. I love Austen’s narrative style – we learn about characters and events as much from what they say to each other as from what she narrates to us. The banter between Darcy and Elizabeth isn’t empty flirting – it’s a progression, a chart, if you will, of their ongoing
misunderstanding understanding, and a way to take stock of plot and character development, as well as an enjoyable display of wit.
3. I also liked the fact that the protagonists are not one-dimensional perfect people, but complex, flawed human beings. Infact, the personality defects of the protagonists are mentioned in title of this book itself; it alludes to the Pride of Mr. Darcy & the Prejudice of Miss. Bennet. And, importantly, these flaws are not used as backhanded compliments. Instead, the reasons are explored, and one can actually see the emotional development of a character as they come to terms with these flaws, and work on overcoming them.
4. The protagonists as well as the side characters have their own distinct personalities, and are very well fleshed out. There are no cookie cutter characters. For instance – Mr. Darcy, Mr Bingley, Mr. Wickham & Mr.Collins among the men; and Miss. Elizabeth Bennet, Miss. Jane Bennet, Miss. Georgiana Darcy, and Miss. Charlotte Lucas among women – they are as unique and different from each other as they can be.
5. Finally, I loved how emphasis was placed on mannerisms and good sense, over just good looks. The author did not rely on only good looks to make the characters endearing, which is such a refreshing change from some of the contemporary novels these days.
Since 5 stars are the maximum on the rating scale, I guess I will have to be content by just giving this book just those 5 stars. But were it up to me, I would give this one all the other stars in sky, AND the moon. 😀
*End of Gush*
This is a book, that I would recommend to anyone and everyone! So, if by some miracle, you haven’t read it yet…
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I would love to hear from you guys. Have you read Pride & Prejudice? Who is your favorite character? (outside of Mr. Darcy, because let’s face it, he would top everyone’s list!) As far as I am concerned, I liked Lizzy as much as I liked Mr. Darcy (okay, that is not completely true, but close).
Interestingly I also liked Jane, and that is a surprise even to me, because Jane’s naivete and innocence is not something that I can relate with, but I found it inexplicably endearing in this book.
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