I read P&P last way back in college for my senior seminar and although it's hard to believe, I haven't reread it until last week. Ah, it is just aI read P&P last way back in college for my senior seminar and although it's hard to believe, I haven't reread it until last week. Ah, it is just as lovely, witty, and brilliant as I remembered! And also, the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth movie version is about 98% faithful. (I watched it just a couple of days after I finished reading the book, and I've watched it so many times in the last few years that I remembered it very well as I was reading.)
I reread my old edition from college which was a Norton Critical Edition and I think that was a mistake. The underlining wasn't too distracting (but it was some) but the comments were very distracting (luckily there weren't many of them.) Plus, why carry around a book that's essentially twice as long as you plan to read? It would have been more enjoyable to read a copy that only had the novel and didn't have my 20-year-old comments.
All that said, Pride and Prejudice totally holds up. It is wonderful. Elizabeth is just as sharp, Darcy just as frustrating, and Kitty and Lydia just as ridiculous as ever. A few things I picked up on this time around was that before I had thought that Mr. Bennet, while very frustrated by Mrs. Bennet, did find her amusing and did find her to have compensations for her silliness (and her nerves). However, in my reread, I noticed more that he told Elizabeth that he'd hate for her not to respect her spouse, as he personally knows how miserable that is. Also, I thought he was - aside from his tactless remarks to stop Mary from playing all night at the ball at Netherfield - sensible and smart, but on the second reading, I find more than he too was silly for having been blinded by Mrs. Bennet's beauty in the first place and also by allowing her poor parenting of Kitty and Lydia, and by general laziness and lackadasicalness that was hard to respect.
I did love the little bits at the very end that explained a bit of what happened after the weddings: that Georgiana was at first shocked by Elizabeth's teasing Darcy but came to understand that is normal, that Kitty did shape up when separated from Lydia, things like that. Once thing I love about some old-fashioned books is how they often have an epilogue that tells you what happened to the characters after the end of the book. I know that's incredibly declasse these days, but I do enjoy it.
So, loved it! Hope I get around to rereading another Austen in 2013 (or maybe I'll read Lady Susan and the juvenelia and finally be able to say that I have read ALL of Austen's works.) Rereading can be such a luxurious, comforting thing. I should do it more. If only it didn't cut into the number of books I've never read before!
I first read this book in 1993 when the movie came out. I absolutely loved it and ran out and bought the book immediately, reading it in a day or two.I first read this book in 1993 when the movie came out. I absolutely loved it and ran out and bought the book immediately, reading it in a day or two. I was thrilled when a few months later, the book appeared on the syllabus for my 20th Century American Lit class. I loved it, and read Ms. Tan's next several books (although with decreasing enthusiasm, and haven't read the last couple.) As usual, I was worried about rereading, but I thought it was worthwhile. I'd seen the movie several times since then, including last week, but I remembered the book had nearly twice as many stories as the movie, and I no longer remembered those and wanted to give it another go.
Luckily, it was fantastic. And I strongly recommend a reread with this book. When I first read it, I was 19. With this reread, I am 36. The daughters in the book are also 36. I still identify with them more so than with the mothers (perhaps because I remain not a mother myself) but now I understood them differently. At 19, I aspired to be them. At 36, I AM them. However, I dealt with my own mother-daughter issues a while back, in my late 20s. In that regard, they seemed a little juvenile, even though most of them were married with kids, a divorce, and maybe more. On the other hand, since I know it is a completely different culture, I think it probably makes sense that they've had a bit more trouble cutting the apron strings. Not to mention, all of them staying in their hometown and living near their parents exacerbated the mother-daughter issues.
The different voices (7 in all, 8 if you count Suyuan) were distinct and the stories were illuminating. You really did see, as An-Mei said, the stair steps of the mothers and daughters going up and down, and them learning to use their own voices and tell their stories is the central theme. But it's a resonant story today. I have a friend who needs to learn what she's worth, and to ask for it, who I'm thinking of giving a copy of this book. An odd fact: This book was originally published in 1987. Which means that the daughters aren't really my age, they're just 4 years younger than my mother. Which makes it all the more interesting for me to identify with the daughters, who are baby boomers, and who grew up in a drastically different America than I did, regardless of their culture. It's interesting how siblings almost never came into the story, except for Jing-Mei's found half-sisters, and they mostly are just a story.
I'm thrilled I reread this, and I finished it in just 2 days. It was powerful, evocative, heart-breaking, and in the end hope-giving. ...more