Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Classics Bookclub

Just last week, I admitted that I had not yet started to read Pride and Prejudice for the 5 Minutes for Books Classics Bookclub. I may have read it in high school, but since I didn't remember the outcome at all, I'm treating this as my first read. Lisa gave some questions as guidelines, and I've sort of incorporated them into this review.

Going into the book, I was of course familiar with the now archetypical characters of the aloof and reserved Mr. Darcy and the quick and spirited Elizabeth Bennet. In fact, although I haven't seen a movie adaptation either, I have seen the movie and read the book of Bridget Jones's Diary in which Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy, just as he plays Mr. Darcy in the A&E miniseries. I have to watch this now. Colin Firth IS Mr. Darcy. Bridget Jones's Diary is a sort of modern retelling of the story (FYI--both the book and the movie have strong language and are not at all in the same style of a properly reserved British classic).

It took me a while to get used to the "free indirect speech" that Austen employs (which was named in the Wikipedia entry which also told me that a Broadway musical version is set to debut in November 2009), so the first third was a little slow-going. However, I read the last half in the same way I read a page-turning thriller. I had to know what would happen.

What surprised me was falling in love and loving to hate the characters who were unfamiliar to me as well: Jane and Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, and my favorite Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. An exchange between from Mr. and Mrs. Bennet which summed up my delight in their characters was this:

"Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is is not so, Mrs. Bennet?"

"Yes, or I will never see her again."

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

I love that the last chapter serves as an epilogue to allow the reader a peek into the futures of the characters involved.

Another overall impression is that I want to live in this world that values the development of friendships through frequent letters and visits, where sitting and reading all evening is considered an acceptable use of your time (well, especially if you're a man), where long walks are taken, and no work is ever done. Sign me up!

Whether you participated in this month's Classic Bookclub or not, you can find links to others' thoughts on Pride and Prejudice over at 5 Minutes for Books.


Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

I do think it would be nice to do no work and to walk around a lot, but I certainly couldn't be as private as they were! For Elizabeth not to tell Jane about Mr. Darcy saving the day with Lydia's situation is unbelievable to me. They were so proper! I would've let that secret out of the bag, especially to my sister/best friend! I think I would've also been much more transparent one I fell in love with Mr. Darcy as well! I guess it's good I live in the 21st century.

Glad you enjoyed it! I was the same way...slow in the beginning and then couldn't put it down in the end!

Carrie said...

It's interesting to read a review of it from someone who is (sorta) reading it for the first time. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on it!

I usually watch the A&E version in installments. I can't sit still for the whole 6 hours but an hour here and an hour there works.

Nise' said...

I agree Carrie, it is neat to hear from someone who is reading it for the first time! I love the scene you shared in the book and in both movies! I am tempted to watch some of the older movie versions to see how they compare.

Lisa writes... said...

Love those quotes as well!

"Free indirect speech"? You go, girl!

And you are so right, Colin Firth is SO Mr. Darcy! I didn't mind Matthew what's his name from the modern movie either, but I think I prefer Mr. Firth...

Bluestocking said...

I wrote an essay on the meaning of Pride and Prejudice during Austen's day!

Jen Rouse said...

P&P is one of my all-time favorites. I have read it many times. And until I read your review just now I had no clue what "free indirect speech" was. (And I minored in English in college! Go figure.)

You learn something new every day, right? Today I learned it from you :)

Katrina said...

I still haven't read this book. I'm putting it on my Fall Into Reading list though and we'll see if I follow through and read it. Glad to hear you liked it and really got pulled in.

Rebekah said...

I love the quote you included here - Mr. Bennet's shrewd wit is one of my favorite elements to the story!

Lee said...

I love Jane Austen dialogue! Glad you enjoyed it, and that exchange between the Bennets is also one of my favorites.

Amy Guerino said...

What a fun study of writing you linked to....free indirect speech! Maybe that is why I love Austen's writing...or I love her wit or I love the depth of her characters and the immense but believable changes they make! I just love it all! Your review was most educational! Thanks