on 27 June 2012
I have read this novel several times and enjoy it every time. Well written and a wonderful insight into the social world of the late 1700's.
on 1 August 2013
I attempted to read this back at school and couldn't make it past the second chapter. Tried it again and it's become one of my favourites.
"Pride and Prejudice" is undoubtedly one of the most beloved classic novels in history -- it's had countless adaptations, sequels and homages lavished on it over the years.
And Jane Austen's grand opus is still beloved for a good reason. While it's rather stuffily written much of the time, it has a vibrant core of witty dialogue and strong characters that shine like lanterns in the night -- and the best part of it is the interplay between the two strong-willed main characters, whose initial dislike of one another blossoms into love once they learn how to overcome his pride and her prejudice.
The Bennett family is in an uproar when wealthy Mr. Bingley moves into the neighborhood, and Mrs. Bennett is especially happy when he takes a liking to the eldest Bennett daughter Jane -- since their estate is entailed and there is no Mr. Bennett Jr., a good marriage is considered essential for at least one of the girls. But her forthright, independent sister Lizzie immediately butts heads with wealthy, aloof Mr. Darcy, who scorns the rural village and seems haughty about everything.
A flurry of proposals, road trips and friendships happen over the course of the following months, with Lizzie fending off her slimy cousin Mr. Collins, and befriending the flirty, hunky Wickham, who claims to have been wronged by Darcy. Lizzie believes Wickham's account -- and she's in for a shock when Darcy unexpectedly proposes, and reveals what Wickham won't tell her about both of their past lives, and what Wickham did to offend Darcy.
And finally things take a scandalous turn when Lizzie's idiotic younger sister Lydia elopes with Wickham, while staying with a friend in Brighton. The family is plunged into disgrace, which also wrecks any chances of a halfway decent marriage for the other daughters. The only one who can set things right is Darcy, who will do whatever he must to make amends to Lizzie -- and unwittingly establish himself as the man she loves as well...
Reading "Pride and Prejudice" is a bit like watching someone embroider a piece of cloth with subtle, intricate designs. Lots of balls, dances, visits and drawing room banter between Lizzie and virtually everyone else, and interwoven with some rather opinions from Jane Austen about haughty aristocrats, marriages of security, entailment, and the whole idea of what an ideal woman has (intellect and strength).
The only real problem: Jane Austen writes very much in the style of her literary era -- it's rather formal and stuffy much of the time, and the narrative is kept distant from the characters. So, not for casual readers.
But despite that formality, Austen's brilliance as a writer is evident -- she slowly unfolds the plot one act at a time, with several intricate subplots that tie together and play off each other. She also wrote some unbelievably sharp-edged dialogue with plenty of witty banter between Lizzie and Darcy ("I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine"). But Austen also weaves in startlingly romantic moments between them ("No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you, can think anything wanting").
It's hard to imagine a better fictional couple than Lizzie and Darcy, despite their rocky start (a major-league snub at a dance). Both are witty, smart, and a bit snotty in their own ways, with quick minds and even quicker tongues. Darcy is a selfish, rather haughty man man who gradually becomes warm and kind, while Lizzie is strong, independent, and Darcy's equal in every way. And neither will marry for anything but true love.
It also has a solid supporting cast: the painfully practical Charlotte Lucas, slimy clerics, virtuous-looking rakes, sisters ranging from saintly to snobby, and the lovable Mr. Bingley and perpetually optimistic Jane. Lizzie's family also adds plenty of color to the story, including the screechy and hilariously mercurial Mrs. Bennett and the barb-tongued Mr. Bennett ("Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do").
Despite its mildly stuffy style, "Pride and Prejudice" is the ultimate Jane Austen novel -- a powerful and romantic story about two people who grow and change because of love. An absolute must-read.
on 15 November 2009
Emma is probably my favourite heroine of early nineteenth-century literature. She is such a delightfully 'human' character, and as appealing and relevant today as she was over 150 years ago.
I was really pleased to find this full-length unabridged reading of the novel at such an affordable price. Good quality unabridged audio CDs can be so prohibitively expensive, and because of this 'Emma' is the first one I have tried. Jenny Agutter reads the novel beautifully and at a good pace, neither fast nor slow. She inflects changes in her tone for different characters so that it becomes quite easy to tell who is speaking in sections of dialogue between the characters and her pronunciation and fluidity of reading make the CDs a real pleasure to listen to.
12 CDs, 14 hours - it is a long haul. I have read the book many, many times and know the story very well. This meant I could listen to the audio in quite a relaxed way without concentrating on every detail. I found it fun to listen to while doing other tasks, jobs, and driving. However, Emma is a complex novel and if you were listening to it for the first time, without having read the book before, you would probably find that you would need to concentrate harder so as not to miss key plot points.
A bit disappointed at the quality of the CD jewel case. It arrived in perfect condition, but several of the teeth holding the CDs have broken. The teeth holding CD3 shattered when I took out CD1 and these are in separate parts of the case. I had expected better quality than that, and I'm always very careful with my CDs, not heavy-handed. A small criticism - after all the CDs are ultimately about the listening experience and for that I cannot fault them. 5*s.
on 11 May 2009
This is the classic Jane Austen novel in all its glory. It is also the first time I've ever read any Jane Austen. This is unfortunate as the watching of the BBC TV series and the wonderful film with Keira Knightley has strongly affected what I expect from a reading of the novel. The characters are then to some degree formed in the images of the actors portrayal in, say, the film. Nonetheless it is worth reading, I simply had to finally read the book.
A wonderful study of 18th-19th century norms and culture in a family not exactly well off but not destitute either. In other words a middle class family with pretensions of a higher status in society while still belaboured with menial tasks. The family of Elizabeth Bennett and her four sisters sit right in the middle of this rich-poor divide having to deal with both aspects of these classes. The novel is well written in a third person style and follows the lives of the sisters, mainly Elizabeth, in their young lives as they seek eligible husbands while being harried continuously by their neurotic mother, who wants the best possible marriages for her daughters, and calm father.
The novel is richly nuanced with layers of social structure and class conduct mixed with the emotional surges of real attraction. This novel sits on the cusp of the great period of social change which was to come over Europe only a few decades later and culminate in women's emanciaption and sufferage of the late 1800 and early 1900's. It is a combined study of the feminine while being tempered by the rigid structure of class society. Just wonderful.
on 6 April 2009
Like many millions of women (and quite a few fellas) I have loved this book (and all the Austen books)since my teens. Classical novels - and this is one - have provided me with many hours entertainment and pleasure. But it's worth offering word to any younger or new readers of this book. Especially any who watched the fantastic "Lost in Austen" on telly last year, and now on DVD. For them - any Austen novel (like any classic novel) will be a "slower read" - for people expressed themselves quite differently back then.
In my opinion, that's one of the beauties of J.A. novels. It's really refreshing (and enjoyable) to listen to the characters talk in perfect English, expressing themselves clearly and fully. Listening to those conversations is also an important part of reading the books, for the clues to the characters speaking, and the characters spoken of, are in those conversations!
For a new reader, it's not a case of scanning through these novels as you might a modern-style romance, or any other novel ... they'll take TIME to get used to. You might find that it's a good idea to go back to the beginning, after you're comfortable with the form of expression used. But so what? With a little patience, you'll find you love this story (and all the Austen novels) and you'll read them again ... and again ...and again! For the stories never get "old".
These books have been popular for over 200 years, now - so there's no rush, fellow Jane-fans. Settle into a comfy chair, and let yourself get used to Austen-land ... it's well worth a bit of patience!
on 26 June 2008
The plot and principal characters are well known. I read this possibly six times in school when I was 14. What emerges for me from reading this much later is that neither Elizabeth, nor Darcy are - initially at least - the perfect, but misunderstood human beings of the screen versions. Darcy, it is clear, is an insufferable snob and it is not at all clear that he ever gets past this. Yes, in the end he has no problem in accepting Elizabeth despite her relatively low social station - that is because he has fallen in love with her. But is he really as transformed as Elizabeth believes by the end of the novel? Does it even matter to her, as Elizabeth will now ascend to a higher social station anyway? Elizabeth is also utterly quick to judge and with Wickham for example, is blind to his faults despite the clear evidence of his mercenary motivations as amply pointed out to her by Mrs Gardiner. What one has to remember however is that Elizabeth is only 21 and Darcy probably no more than 26. They can be forgiven their failings (Elizabeth her prejudice, Darcy his pride and haughtiness) to some extent. This is a novel as much about growing up and reaching maturity, as it is about the danger of judging on first impressions.
Another aspect that one does not appreciate at 14 is the social background to the novel. It is a time of the emergence of mass consumerism in England and of rapid technological and economic innovation. England was the cradle of capitalism and here it is being perfected at this time. This is evident throughout the novel and money and all things money related are always part of the main event.
Although Austen was a master of the novel form, this is not a perfect novel. Compare for example the crisp, no nonsense, galloping opening chapters with some of the final chapters that completely belabour the Wickham episode and how they slow down the narrative and plot resolution. These minor criticisms aside, P&P is a stunning achievement by a literary genius and it will never lose its appeal.
on 16 May 2007
This is one of my all-time favourite books and I recently re-read it to see whether its magic could still enchant. I was not disappointed. The story is as riveting and satisfying as it ever was, two love stories, mingled with a witty and satirical depiction of society's norms as they were in Jane Austen's day.
The story is well known, a delightful take on a familiar theme - girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl and boy get back together again. But in this case there are two `girl meets boy' stories, those of the only two sisters with, in their father's estimation, any sense. The pride is Elizabeth Bennet's, the prejudice Mr Darcy's. Good-looking but haughty, he is seemingly disdainful of any class below his own and determined not to demean himself by dancing with Elizabeth, or any other young lady of her class, no matter how captivating she might be.
Jane Austen's characterisation is superb. The five Bennet sisters are so different from each other and so real: Jane, the eldest, pretty and full of goodness, seeing only the best in everyone; Elizabeth, sensible and feisty; Kitty, the sister we know least; Lydia, frothy and fluffy-headed, who brings shame and almost ruin to her family; and staid, disapproving Mary, who has no idea that she is so dull and tedious. Mrs Bennet's sole ambition is to avoid the ignominy of seeing any of her daughters unmarried, to the point where it seems any potential husband will do. Their father is a quite, sensible, man, eminently likeable, unlike the repulsive Mr Collins, a cousin with claims to their property. These are just a few of the many characters who, between them, make this such a delightful read. It is at times funny, at times serious. I have seen it described as the perfect novel and in many ways it is - a thoroughly rounded, satisfying whole.
on 3 April 2015
Perfect packaging, perfect item conditions and puntual delivery. Really satisfied! I love it!!! It fits in my pocket and nice front page!
on 6 January 2006
this is an amazing story-deep moving, and in parts, funny! i am young, and i doubt that many people my age have read trhe book, but i found it relatively easy to grasp, partially as i watched the picture first- wich is also fantastic. Personally i see no point in buying the latest edition of this book, as this version is brilliant value for money, however the font is very small- so if you find it hard to read small print- stick to the other versions! Part from that- it is amazing and great value for money... i also bought wuthring heights- which i am reading currently!