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.
Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
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!
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
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.
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!