Thursday, March 3, 2011

GOLDEN OLDIES (GUEST BLOGGER): Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

We finished Pride and Prejudice. My guest blogger today is my daughter Lila.

          The title of this book is so well known as to almost be cliché: Pride and Prejudice. Most people have heard the phrase long before they connect it to a story, or even realize what the words mean. Even as a fan of classics like Little Women and The Secret Garden, I always thought of this book in the same way as War and Peace or Don Quixote: one of those ancient grown-up books that everyone has heard of, but almost no one endeavors to actually read. It took another book, an adaptation of sorts called The Mother-Daughter Book Club: Pies and Prejudice to make me actually pick it up, and now I am so glad I did.
          Written by Jane Austen around the beginning of the 19th century, Pride and Prejudice has captivated generations of readers. This classic contains everything a good modern romance would—love at first sight, misunderstanding, changes of feeling, competition, scandal, suspense, and a happy ending—except the coarse language and adult scenes. Though the characters behave with early 19th century English etiquette, their personalities are still strong and relevant today. Austen tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters—Jane, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia—after jovial Mr. Bingley, his sisters, and their reserved friend Mr. Darcy move into nearby Netherfield Estate.
          The society of Hertfordshire immediately gets an impression of Mr. Darcy as very arrogant. “Mr. Darcy danced only once with Mrs. Hurst and once with Miss Bingley (Mr. Bingley’s sisters), declined being introduced to any other lady, and spent the rest of the evening in walking about the room, speaking occasionally to one of his own party. His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world . . . .” For the Bennets and their friends, this picture of his character is further supported by a comment to Mr. Bingley. When Mr. Bingley asks Mr. Darcy to dance with Elizabeth, who is sitting alone, Mr. Darcy proudly replies “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”
Elizabeth overhears, and before ever talking to Mr. Darcy herself, she concludes that he is a very disagreeable man. When Mrs. Bennet hears the story, she is insulted and resents Mr. Darcy even more than Elizabeth does. “‘. . .Lizzy,’ said her mother, ‘I would not dance with him, if I were you.’ ‘I believe, Ma’am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him.”  Elizabeth proceeds to break her promise at the Netherfield ball weeks later: “. . . she found herself suddenly addressed by Mr. Darcy, who took her so much by surprise in his application for her hand, that, without knowing what she did, she accepted him. He walked away again immediately, and she was left to fret over her own want of presence of mind.” Despite this time spent together, Elizabeth holds fast to her first impression for the entirety of Mr. Darcy’s first stay in Hertfordshire. “‘Are you much acquainted with Mr. Darcy?’ (asked Mr. Wickham), ‘As much as I ever wish to be,” cried Elizabeth warmly, “ . . . I think him very disagreeable.’”
Mr. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice keep them on edge with each other for their first several meetings. I won’t spoil the ending by telling it here, if you don’t already know. Austen’s distinctive characters keep you anxious for their story throughout the four hundred plus page novel, and witty comments by Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet will bring a smile to your face. Pride and Prejudice is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone twelve and older.
Review by Lila 


  1. Lovely review Lila :)
    I put off reading P&P for a long time too, thinking it was a stuffy classic that I wouldn't get any enjoyment from. It took watching the TV adaptation to get me interested in reading it.

  2. You have a flair for writing reviews, Lila :) I finally read this for the first time last year & it was surprisingly wonderful. I really thought the humour & romance would have been outdated but it was lovely. Have you read other Jane Austen books? I'm going to try Emma next & possibly Sense & Sensibility.

  3. Lila: Very nice review of one of my favorite reads ever.

  4. This is a lovely post, Lila! You are very good at writing reviews. I felt exactly the same about Pride and Prejudice before I read it for the first time last year and loved it.

  5. I don't want to freak you out writing something here because you posted in March, but I was looking at your archive and couldn't resist!

    I *adore* this book, which would be considered weird for a male, teen reader. But I can't stand modern romances really, and I loved watching them slowly fall in love with one another and watching it all progress. I think the fact that most people know what happens makes their early detestation of one another such a surprise and keeps us hooked. I great, concise review, by the way!