Next up: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
What can one say about “Pride and Prejudice” that hasn’t been said before? Not much, but I could hardly let this book fall by the wayside. It was, after all, one of the very few books I read for school that I actually enjoyed (so many of the others were horrifically depressing… “The Old Man and the Sea”, anybody? What about “Of Mice and Men”, dear god). Everyone agrees that “Pride and Prejudice” is a classic, a literary main-stay. Let me tell you why I liked it.
It is, of course, a romance story between Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (or, since honestly nobody cares about his first name, Mr. Darcy). Except it is a particularly rocky romance, since for much of the book they just needle and insult each other relentlessly. Mr. Darcy clearly believes himself to be above association with the Bennets. Lizzie thinks he’s insufferably arrogant. The romance begins purely on Darcy’s side, with Lizzie legitimately disliking him from nearly first sight. However, by associating with other individuals who know Darcy, Lizzie comes to know him as himself, rather than as the rich jerk she initially believed him to be. She comes to love him, despite their initial dealings and despite their differing social standings.
There is a great deal occurring outside the two protagonists’ Belligerent Sexual Tension, as well. Scandals, tremendously awkward marriage proposals, misunderstandings with intimidating high society matrons… There are many events that unfold within the book that keep the reader’s interest.
I think that a lot of people have this vision of older books being dry and boring, but that’s not very accurate. Sure there are books like that, but “Pride and Prejudice” sure isn’t one of them. Austen is wonderfully snarky and witty, and there’s plenty of humor to be found in the book. In fact, I did find myself snickering to myself as I read.
There is a fairly large cast of characters to “Pride and Prejudice”, populating the fictional Regency era Britain with a realistic gamut of personality types. The interactions between all these people are responsible for a lot of the book’s interest; you want to know about what happens to the other characters as well as to Lizzie and Darcy.
The writing seemed trim. Older books sometimes include long asides that were intended to explain certain things to readers (remember, there was a time when you couldn’t just pull out your smart phone and google stuff), which I think is part of why people can find them dry and boring. “Pride and Prejudice” doesn’t really do this; it doesn’t really need to. Everything moves along at a reasonable pace, and the book itself isn’t very long, all things considered.