on 31 March 2010
Recently every book I have been reading seems to be a badly written, trashy novel. I decided it was time to (once again) attempt a classic. After consulting a very unhelpful librarian on where to start, I chose this book quite randomly. Having previously tried S&S after watching the brilliant BBC adaptation (but not getting further than the first couple of chapters due to the confusing way it was written) I wasn't really expecting to finish Emma - which is very long; and divided into three 'books'.
However, I instantly loved it. The language is beautiful and the characters real. Most of all, the plot is very believable - I can imagine this book being written now. The plot is one which could be very trashy - a girl trying to fix up her friends - yet the way it is written almost makes you forget this.
My only problem is that it is possibly too long a book for the amount of things that happen and some of the dialogue is very confusing. However, I think this is a great starting point if you do want to get into classic literature and I have been inspired to read other books from the era.
on 8 November 2009
Please, if you have never read Emma, please do judge this book by any film or TV adaptation you may have seen. The classic mistake of adaptors is to squeeze out a plot where there is none, trying to turn it into another Pride and Prejudice. (I love P & P, but Emma is better.)
This novel is about characters and is a wickedly funny observation of the society, the manners and the daily lives of the early 19th century. It sparkles with humour.
This is a truly great book that does not give up all its secrets at the first (or even the tenth reading.) Nothing happens in Emma, everything happens in Emma.
Read, savour, re-read.
(Who am I to praise the great Jane?. Unworthy. I will just genuflect and go.)
on 26 June 2012
Yes, I know this is free so you can't expect much from a free book but why can't we have the full text? This is my favourite classic and I was looking forward to reading the e-version but feel I have been cheated. One of my reasons for getting a Kindle was the promise of free classics and now I'm finding it be a promise with hidden terms and conditions.
I'm sure this version is great for someone who has not read the book but many of us have. I knew by the first page something was missing from this version. Just be careful which edition you download!
on 25 May 2004
I had the terrible misfortune to go to a school that insisted on making us read the most miserable old books for our English courses. For years afterwards I suffered under the assumption that anything labelled as a "classic" was certain to be grim and impenetrable, and I stuck to reading relatively modern novels.
I bless the day when I wrestled with my prejudice and picked up a friend's anthology of Austen's novels. I had heard plenty about Austen's "social observation" before. It's an unfortunate phrase, because it suggested to me that her writing would be interesting but a bit dry and academic. Not a bit of it.
All of the Austen novels I've read so far have been good, but Pride and Prejudice is head and shoulders above the rest and ranks as one of the most entertaining books I have ever read. The characters are fabulously drawn, from the odious Mr Collins and the vacuous Lydia to the blithe Mr Bingley and the truly heroic Lizzie Bennett. The book is wonderfully constructed, going through what seems to be fairly straightforward plot development before Mr Darcy's proposal puts the main protagonists through a second half full of suspense and heart-felt self-criticism. Austen's writing is clear, concise, full of acute observations and coloured with a wonderful sense of humour.
While the whole book is extremely satisfying, it is Lizzie who steals the show. Much has been made of Mr Darcy's sex appeal, but most red-blooded men would find hard to deny that Miss Bennett is a deeply fascinating and attractive woman. She is fabulous throughout, and the story is peppered with moments where she delivers some truly marvelous dialogue, not least her reaction to Mr Darcy's proposal and her interview with Lady Catherine (which almost had me cheering out loud on the train into work). Strong-willed, intelligent, good-looking and cool under pressure; what a woman.
A fabulous book. How I wish I had read it years ago.
on 24 July 2011
I first bought this book in its Kindle version a week ago. To be honest, I wasn't really that keen on it. I was only persuaded to read it because I was new to the Kindle and didn't yet have a lot of books to read on it. I expected it to be tedious. I didn't find the title promising, for one thing. And for another, I had an not entirely unreasonable feeling that, since this is rather an old book, it would contain really hard language and strange words. I started off the first couple of chapters with an ill grace, but soon I was captivated by Jane Austen's excellently woven plot about family and relationships. I simply couldn't stop reading, and I was so absorbed in it that I lost track of the time. It is now my most favorite book, which is actually quite surprising because I had never imagined that anything could beat the Harry Potter novels. Also, the Kindle format is very good, with an active table of contents and everything.
The rough outline of the story is about high-ranking Mr. Darcy, who has a massive amount of wealth and middle-class Elizabeth Bennett, who has a determined prejudice against Mr. Darcy because of his pride. As the passion between them grows,it becomes more and more unlikely of their being united. I also really like the way it is all so realistic and makes you believe every word of the book. I won't go into the plot to spoil the surprise.
I've really enjoyed this book...more than anything that I have ever read before, and I hope you will read and enjoy it too. I really recommend this book to anyone over ten years of age. It is a great read... Unmissable!!
on 3 December 2007
This was the first of Jane Austen's books I read and it remains my favourite. Pride and Prejudice is so well written, that a couple of hundred years down the line, it is still easy to understand and easy to relate to.
I love that each of the character's failings are brought out, it just makes them so very human! And yet despite being aware of Mr Darcy's pride and stiffness, Lydia's silliness, Mrs Bennett's complaints, etc, the reader is still drawn to them.
The dialogue, the description and the human touch throughout this lovely novel is what makes it timeless.
As an aside, this edition of the book is great as the author's original spelling has been left unchanged, and it's not full of appendixes and notes.
'Pride and Prejudice' was published in 1813 and describes how its heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, copes with life among the landed gentry in the early nineteenth century. It is a delicate, wise and sometimes richly humorous novel about how to cope with polite society and its rules. Elizabeth is one of five sisters, the daughters of a moderately well-off country gentleman; his estate is entailed to the nearest male relative and the girls will have a very modest inheritance, so it is imperative that they marry well. To find a suitable husband, they must be accomplished, beautiful and well-mannered and the book deals with issues of manners, upbringing and educations, as well as morality.
This is such a well-known story and has been made into films and television series so many times that you'd think that reading it would be a yawn. On the contrary, it is subtle and charming and wise and thoroughly enjoyable, in my opinion Jane Austen's greatest novel. How much I'd have missed if I had simply watched this on tv! One really understands why Elizabeth and Jane's embarrassing relatives - their parents and siblings, were such a drawback to making a good marriage, as well as why their father's conduct was a reprehensible as their foolish mother's. What I loved was the realism - the explicit way in which women recognised that their only route to a secure and comfortable life was to marry the right man, and that actually falling in love was an optional extra. Elizabeth's plain friend, Charlotte, trades herself off to a foolish man whom she does not love in order to have a home and family and her painful predicament is completely understandable. Elizabeth is determined not to marry without love. Will she succeed? She learns many lessons in her journey to happiness, as does Darcy, and this is what gives the plot its movement forward. A lovely book!
on 6 August 2012
Pride and Prejudice, the much-sung classic tale of the daughters who must get married, simply cannot be celebrated enough. Essentially this is the story of several young women having to make the best of their situation and do what society expects of them. Most of them actually do what society expects, and so in other words this book is about as far from a fantasy as can be: it is a book about real people, coping with real situations. It's saved from being dull and tedious by the fact that it is also beautifully romantic, stylishly narrated, and cleverly amusing, gently poking fun at all the characters in equal measure. Elizabeth is a wonderful heroine surrounded by her often ridiculous friends and family - a situation I think we can all identify with occasionally! This book was written by someone who understood humans so unbelievably well that I guarantee you will find at least one character you know in real life - Mrs Bennett, Lydia, Mr Collins and Caroline Bingley in particular are terrifyingly real.
Alright, so a fast-paced thriller it is not. The main events are fairly well-spaced between passages of conversation; it's almost as if you are watching real people that you know play out their lives, such that the book involves you in a way that most other stories can only dream of.
Everyone should read this book. Until you have you are ignorant of its wonders.
(N.B. Many of the writers of the negative reviews about the novel seem to feel they have been misled in some way, and that the book was neither what they wanted nor expected. To break it to you gently, if you're looking for car chases and gunfights, Pride and Prejudice probably isn't for you.)
on 16 August 2011
When I was force fed her books at school, albeit I was a willing guzzler, such a question was UNTHINKABLE!!! We were taught all about irony. We learned about her little piece of ivory on which she detailed, with a devastating grip, the goings on of a rural village, while ignoring irritating distractions such as the war, but sexy? Romantic might be allowed but the desires of the flesh just weren't in our ink stained essays at all.
To many of us, it took Colin Firth's muscles rippling through his wet shirt, to realise that of course these nineteenth century folk had sex!!
I had sensed this in an unfocused way, when as a very naive adolescent I read and reread the passage when Mr Darcy finally hooks the enchanting Elizabeth,, with all the hot- breathed, secretive fervour, later applied to the 'Good bits' of Lady Chatterly's Lover. Those few pages achieved a worn and well thumbed look.
Sex permeates all her novels, though usually it is only performed amomgst The Dastardly and The Fallen often with bitter and punishing results with less than splendid isolation for the women who gave their all.. Here though, right here, Lydia GETS AWAY WITH IT!!! Has her cake and marries it too.
The novel is obsessed with marriage, it is seen as the only proper fulfillment for a young lady and something to be achieved at an early age and preferably with a large pounds sign, or sovereign sign, attached. Love does not necessarily enter into it, see for example the fate of poor old Charlotte manacled for life and up the duff, in the correct order of course, to the unspeakable creep, Mr Collins.
Lydia gets her man, through throwing herself, soul, and more particularly body, at her man but she ends up somewhere up North away from the local gentry and one can only speculate on how many nights her husband spends in some other future lady's chamber: but ah, the Good Girls, Jane and Elizabeth, they get the lot, money AND love and very flash pads close to each other. They are seen to be rewarded fully, though they do not reveal so much as a centimetre of ankle at Bingley or Darcy, their purity is beyond question.
So much has been written about this novel, its wit, its incisive insight into the mores and manners of these well heeled, marriage minded folk, there is absolutely nothing new to be said so I wont try. It is scintillating. I fell in love with it immediately,in my young teens, perhaps I didn't have much of a real life then! If you tried it at school and failed with it, give it another go. If you are not used to that sort of writing just persevere, just get into the emotion behind the prose and it is like a superb time machine into a vanished world.
on 14 June 2011
I am a huge Jane Austen fan and have read all her novels multiple times, never getting tired of the plots or characters. I love the wit of her writing, the sarcasm and irony add real humour and depth to what are very simply good love stories. OK, there is narrative on society at the time, the values applied to literature / religion / class etc, which are illustrated very accessibly in her work, but essentially this is chick-lit at its best.
In Emma we have a real anti-heroine, a young lady who is inherently flawed and ought to be considered quite unlikeable. She is selfish, snobby and smug, constantly judges and interferes with her supposed friends lives, and while accepting minimal blame when proven wrong in her actions is somehow always able to still justify them to herself as well-intentioned if badly executed. And yet, you like her regardless! You find yourself wanting to affectionately scold her, as the scrummy hero of the piece Mr Knightley does, rather than despising her, which I guess is testament to Jane Austen's abilities to create such an interesting character as Emma.
The various love trianges which appear in this plot are all believable and realistic, but portrayed in a lovely romantic fashion to make you feel all warm and smushy, and there are several twists and turns which when you are reading this for the first time you won't necessarily predict the outcome of.
It's one of those books you can't bear to put down, and the happy ending is as lovely as you expect from a Jane Austen. Highly recommend all her books, but this is second only to the Pride & Prejudice in my opinion as an absolute romantic classic.