Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
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Oct 05, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, 2007, re-read, book-club
Read in December, 2007

This is a re-read for me, only I can't remember if I've read it once, twice or how many times before. At least twice, I think, but so long ago that it was like reading it for the first time. I just had this urge to read it again, I can't explain it but I'm glad I did.

I probably don't need to describe the plot, I'm sure everyone knows it by now. I actually never studied this book at school or uni, so I've never delved into it and explored the themes or anything. Some people seem to find it, or elements of it, offensive to modern-day sensibilities, such as the absorption of certain characters in 'catching' a man and getting married. To be honest, I think one of the reasons why Austen's books are still so popular is because of their familiarity (as well as their sense of humour, the clash of characters, and that age-old quest for love): plenty of people are preoccupied with exactly the same things today. The 'meat market' is still there - in the form of pubs, clubs and other 'dos rather than balls. Language and costumes may have changed, but just look at that ridiculous tv show "The Bachelor" - it's catchphrase could easily be "A single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Though, cynically, they're more like Wickham - again, a very familiar character.

Back to the humour for a moment. The wit in the dialogue always makes me chuckle, even when the lines are so well-known I see them coming. There is a dry amusement between the lines when describing the interactions between characters, the way they dance around each other. The skill with which characters like Darcy and Mr. Collins are written is supurb, and even though they are rarely described you get a clear sense of their figure etc. - and personality - through the way they speak. Austen manages in a few well-chosen words to capture an entire scene or personality.

It's so nice to go back to the source and read the original text after watching the series and the more recent movie so many times. There were things, little details, that I had forgotten or barely noticed before, which pleasantly surprised me. Most of all, it confirmed my opinion that the recent movie is an excellent adaptation of a long, detailed book, and easily my favourite. (I've seen the much older series as well, the one where Darcy walks around like he has a stick up his bum. Compared to that, Collin Firth's Darcy was a breath of fresh air.)

I wonder, too, if we can go back to this non-formulaic structure of a love story. How many movies have you seen that are, in structure and basic plot, exactly the same? A few British movies have managed to play around with it a bit, like Bridget Jones's Diary, Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral. What keeps my attention with P&P - and what no doubt makes it a tricky book to capture on film - is the life-like, everyday-ness of the plot, the turns you can't predict unless you're already familiar with the story, that feeling like it really happened because it doesn't feel contrived at all - that kind of structure makes an old book like P&P feel fresher than the latest romantic-comedy release.

At least, that's the way it is for me. I can understand why some people don't like the story at all, or are disinterested. Personally, I appreciated the book much more this time round, at 28, than I did when I first read it just before the BBC series came out in the mid-90s, when I was 16. I got more out of it, and understood the language much better - though there are still a few lines (at one point even an entire paragraph) whose meaning eludes me. I'll get there, cause this ain't the last time I'll read the book that's for sure.

Now I need to re-read the others and see if my opinion has changed any...

A Note On This Edition: This edition is part of a reproduction series of late 19th-century editions. The covers are, of course, new, but the text inside is printed on lovely thick paper, and like the Sandstone editions of books like Jane Eyre, the font etc. is a much older style. P&P is complete with spaces between words and semicolons etc., and illustrations by Hugh Thomson that are often quite funny. There is no ISBN for this book, you can't buy it in a shop. I actually got these from Doubleday bookclub years ago.
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06/19 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Evrodina Hmmm...
I taste a very good smell in this book. Every women should read this, i think.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) It's a great book isn't it?

I love this edition too. It's a reproduction of a 19th century edition, complete with illustrations and yummy thick paper that does indeed smell good! No ISBN, though, you can't buy this series in the shops :(

Shannon (Giraffe Days) I love Cecil - or rather, I love how he's written (and portrayed - I actually prefer the movie!). I think I just meant that it has a fairly conventional story arc? As in structure, or formula, not the story/characters; though to be fair, including A Room With a View is a bit of a stretch - not quite sure what I was thinking when I wrote this, when... three years ago. (I've just been doing some editing.)

I don't think I would call it a "type" book now, but clearly at the time I wrote this I did. Obviously it could do with some more editing... (Aaaaaand I'm talking myself into circles. Thanks for pointing this out to me. If I can't argue for it, I clearly don't agree with it either?)

Shannon (Giraffe Days) I watched the film many many times before reading the book at around 20, so I had already grown attached to the way the actors worked the characters - it has some classic lines that the actors really own! and I missed that when I read the book. The book definitely got the short end of the stick with me, when I really wanted to find the same magic :(

Maribel Shannon, I'm going to kill you : ). Now, I'm desperately seeking this edition because of your lovely description. I love books (especially the classics) done in heavy paper and lovely binding.
Again, thank you for a wonderful review. You touch on so many things that i wish I could express but just get so tounge-tied in my head that my reviews usually read "Loved this book! Must read for everyone, everywhere."

Shannon (Giraffe Days) You mentioned your daughter got you a lovely hardcover of Jane Eyre? I think I know the ones you mean, that came out late last year. They have P&P too.

I'm often tempted to write those reviews myself ;)

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