Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Last year, I did a little survey whimmajig about the 100 books to read before you die. I decided to make a dent in that.

One book EVERYONE seems to have read in high school that I completely missed was Pride and Prejudice. My high school was weird, so that’s my excuse.

The Book

prideprejudice423x630Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
1816
Project Gutenberg Link

I got my copy of this book from the library. It’ll be my second true romance book, but I think it was published too long ago to be sordid or contain many instances of the word ‘cock,’ so I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be expecting here. I know that many consider Mr. Darcy to be swoon-worthy, but I’m not sure why yet.  Let’s find out!

Non-Spoiler Review

I’m still not a romance person, so this book probably wasn’t the kind I’d read for my own enjoyment. Even so, I found it often witty and always passably good. One line I think I laughed aloud at was when a woman set out to “accidentally run into him [her beau].” I thought that was pretty witty, and it made me feel more connected to this time frame.

Front and center was the ridiculousness of much English pre-Victorian niceties. The ideas of inheritance presented here seemed stupid to me, when Mr. Bennet had at least 2 rather capable daughters who could have easily dealt with everything. I had quite the time figuring out what it meant to be entailed, and I’m still not 100% sure I’ve got that concept right. Either way, my favorite part of this book was learning more about English customs at the time.

Also interesting to me was the main character. I didn’t expect to like Elizabeth so much, but I did. It was interesting, I thought, to have a book from this period with such a feminine focus. The men felt more like forces, almost like weather, and the wiles and whims of the ladies all that mattered. I didn’t know books like this existed so long ago, and I found this one to be strangely feminist. The characters were definitely exploited and considered – sometimes in a very straightforward manner – to be inferior to their husbands or other males, but the women were often the only characters that felt three dimensional. It was really a bizarre experience.

Overall, this was far better than I expected it would be.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Dare I need a spoilers review?

Maybe – I didn’t know what the climax would be before I read the book, though I was aware that the goal was to get Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together. You may disagree, but I thought Lydia’s engagement to Wickham was such a nice climax/twist. Right when Elizabeth figured out that Wickham was wicked (lol, the alliteration), her younger sister fell into his trap! There was a lot of focus on the value of female purity and virginity in those passages, but it was still a shocking event.  Well played, Austen, well played.

I also liked how much of the book was about Elizabeth’s perceptions of Mr. Darcy. Who he really was didn’t matter so much as who she thought he was, and it was intriguing to see that perception change. I almost felt like my perceptions changed with hers, and it was so weird! Sleuthy Elizabeth was such a delight.

Even so, I found the ending where Elizabeth finally said yes to Mr. Darcy’s proposal to be… cliche. It might not have been at the time, but I found it a bit groan-worthy. Even though Elizabeth knew him to be honorable, kind, and generous, I still didn’t think they’d spent enough actual time together to make a good guess on their match.

Next week:

We’ll be jumping into a new month and new theme! I’m really excited about this next one, so be sure to stick around!

35 thoughts on “Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

  1. trentpmcd says:

    One thing you seem to have caught more than most first time readers that I’ve seen is that the book is more of a social comedy than a romance. Since that society has been gone 200 years, we don’t always catch the humor. And, yeah, Elizabeth was a great character…

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Ha! Well, I do love societal commentaries more than romances, so it makes sense that I’d get the “secret” better than people who read it for the romance!

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. D. Wallace Peach says:

    My high school missed this one too, though I’ve read enough about it to sort-of know the story (maybe I saw the movie??). I’m also not a romance reader, so I haven’t been inclined to pick it up. But this does sound like an interestingly feminist book for the time. I like 19th-century books where the women don’t need to be rescued from their helpless incompetence. And it bugs me how much of that still exists in books and movies today.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      If you read Robbie’s interpretation, it may not actually be as feminist as I thought it to be. I can see that, though, if you don’t look at it as a comedy/satire at all. It’s at least very intriguing, and I personally thought Elizabeth was great.

      And yes! Misrepresentations of people are so, so common. It’s kind of why I think I got bummed out by all these comic book movies: they seem to think they’re doing well, but I just don’t think they have. I’ll let others judge that element for themselves, especially if they have more personal right to do so, but I think it’s conspicuous how badly our societies have sucked at appreciating everyone’s abilities.

  3. crispina kemp says:

    I read that review with keen interest. What would you make of it? It is a work of its times, and therefore an education regards historical etiquette and mores.
    I remember my eldest daughter watching the Keira Knightly adaption and asking why the women are dancing around the bush, why pretend to like each other when really they’re downright bitchy.
    I love how Austin brings out the Georgian manners.

  4. Almost Iowa says:

    Having seen a number of dramatizations, yeah, we are PBS people, I wonder how the reading of it would differ from the viewing of it. Sometimes the enjoyment of a book is the story, other times it is the word play.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Hmm… I’ve never seen/heard/read another interpretation of this book other than the one presented here. I personally think it’d give a totally different view without some of the puns and intentional humor you get from following Elizabeth’s viewpoint, but I’d have to watch a movie to see if that’s right!

  5. Jade M. Wong says:

    Ahh, one of the classics. I particularly liked your description of Elizabeth because I think you nailed why she was such an important character for so many of us young girls and women. She remains the main reason why I love this book.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      There’s very few Regency Era works that have such staying power as Austen’s – and I think the character of Elizabeth was one of them. I liked her quite a bit, and her characterization was subtle yet vigorous.

  6. robertawrites235681907 says:

    I am not an Austen fan, H. I find her portrayals of women offensive, even if they are considered true to the time period. Pride and prejudice is the best of them. I much prefer the Bronte sisters works and even Tess of the D’Urberville’s which illustrate better the suppression of all people, men and especially women, from the middle and working classes. Have you read any of these.

  7. Chelsea Owens says:

    You need to watch the five hour BBC version. I LOVED almost all of the actors in it; they did their characters so well. I wanted to slap the mother and Mr. Collins.

    And I wasn’t an Austen fan, either. You already know my feelings on romance in general.

    I agree that the ending is cliché, but I think a different one would be tragic for Elizabeth. Given the time period, her scoring the best mate (on even footing, and not at Darcy’s command) was quite the triumph.

  8. Ari says:

    I too missed reading this at school and am currently in the middle of reading it now as I found I had a free copy on my tablet! I am enjoying it, though sometimes the “olde English” can make my eyes go funny.

    I already know the ending since I’ve seen the movies and even read the Pride and Predjuicide and Zombie version (which I also liked). But I’m enjoying reading this classic. 🙂

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I’ve read enough Regency-era things (I’m a huge fan of the analogous time in America) that it’s ok by me. But I did learn a lot about England in reading this!

      I’ve never read “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” mostly because I read “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and hated it so, so much. I construed the two books together,so that probably made it such that I wouldn’t read the zombies book.

      • Ari says:

        I never read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but I did see the movie and wasn’t overly impressed. In the same vein, I LOVED the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie (even though it’s not that close to the book).

        But the book was good, just the part where Elizabeth rejects Darcy…instead of just telling him angrily that she doesn’t like him, they have sword fight! I love it 😀

      • H.R.R. Gorman says:

        There was a movie for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter!?! THAT SOUNDS AWFUL. Why would they do that!?

        Also, might now have to read that zombie book.

      • Ari says:

        Hopefully you’ll like it, though the movie is better – I like the (totally different, very more action-y) ending of the movie. 😀

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.