Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Major Characters: Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Bennett, Lydia Bennett, Mr. & Mrs. Bennett; Fitzwilliam Darcy, Charles Bingley.
Main Plot: Elizabeth Bennett, the second of five daughters, thinks herself an excellent judge of character, especially of those around her who are driven by status and the desire to marry whomever in good-standing that shall have them. But not everyone is so easily pegged, and sometimes when you prejudge someone, you can be entirely mistaken.
"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a good book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library."
"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that it had begun."
“I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than [her]; she only smiles, I laugh.”
My Rating: More like 100 million trillion
I begin writing this review from my bed at 2am in a hazy state of absolute love after turning the final page of this novel. Like I may need a cigarette. I doubt I have the words to express how much I adore this book. After closing the book, with my head propped up on my headboard, I pressed the book to my mouth and looked over its binding. I felt vulnerable and overwhelmed, and for a while, it was all I could do not to cry. Yes, cry. And then, of course, within a few seconds time, that is exactly what I did. I allowed two tears to stroll down my cheek before deeming myself absolutely ridiculous and pulling the backs of my hands across my face. I am utterly in love with this remarkable novel.
Returning to this review, I look back on the paragraph that I hastily typed minutes after finishing this book, and I still feel the same way. I read it weeks ago, and I'm still in love with it, maybe even more so. And this is to be expected as, in many ways, Pride and Prejudice, is largely a romantic novel, transporting its reader to a world full of formalities and grandeur. This is a genuine love story - the love story to spark all those that we love currently. Yet, in many ways, it's nothing like the love stories we know. There's no damsel in distress, at least not permanently so. Elizabeth Bennett can take care of herself, and is unwilling to accept a husband for any other reason than all-consuming love. At the same time, Elizabeth doesn't pretend to be above the affairs of the heart and admits freely to his sister that, although prepared to wait for it, she wants that love. I identified with Elizabeth Bennett in a way that I've never connected with a character before. More than loved her, I felt like I was her. A sarcastic, secure, stubborn woman with much to say and no filter, Elizabeth judges the people around her for their desires and first impressions. She's not evil-spirited, but she is "the prejudice". And when she meets "the proud", she's affronted by his words, his "too good for everyone" demeanor, and his ability to frustrate her like no one else. In a word and without even knowing it, she feels challenged.
This romance novel has an incredible satire folded into it but not hidden at all. And as the perfect combination of hilarity and a sappy love story, the novel has easily shot to the #1 spot on my favorite books list. From the very beginning, Austen's description pokes fun of early 19th century status-driven society. The first line is saturated in sarcasm: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Austen's witty commentary on the world in which the Bennett sisters (at least most of them) strive to find their rich husbands, and her tone through Elizabeth's point of view makes the reader love both the character and the author. Austen looks at the institution of marriage in her society with a critical eye, as something that was the only option for many women, yet not necessarily the best option. But, she's no cynic. Using her characters as examples, she examines the wrong reasons for marrying, and the right ones between characters whose hearts seem to fall in sync from the very beginning.
Austen's writing is descriptive and lush. I didn't just read about Pemberley; I saw the rolling hills and stream full of excellent game. Not only was I disgusted by Lydia Bennett's complete disregard for her family, but I felt it as if she were my sister and wanted to strangle her just like Elizabeth. I made faces at some characters and felt badly for others. I could name dozens of quotes that I loved and language I thought perfect. Austen's writing pulls you in that way. There were moments while reading when I thought a short chapter here or there was extraneous or an unnecessary character was introduced, but within a few pages, I was shown exactly how necessary it was. Every single page pushed the characters and the story towards the final resolution and all the pieces fit perfectly together.
I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it, but if you have, leave a comment so we can fangirl over it! And if you love the novel, check out the link in my favorites post of a modern day adaptation. For now, I'll leave it at this: Pride and Prejudice is simply flawless and I'm sure that no review I write could ever do it any justice.