My Historical for March’s TBR Challenge

I had originally wanted to wait until I’ve finished Northanger Abbey before posting this for the reading challenge, but this wonderful masterpiece warrants a post all on its own. Here is my take on this delightful, thought-provoking and utterly brilliant period novel.

My Historical for March's TBR Challenge

Title: Pride & Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Year published: First published 1813; Published in Penguin Popular Classics 1994

Why did you get this book?
I had been planning to read this again, especially when I learnt that there will be a movie adaptation of it. I actually started on this on Austen’s birthday, 16 December (yeah, I’ve been really slow, having been sidetracked by a certain young wizard with a lightning scar and a fantastical land of fauns, talking lion, centaurs and the One Ring to rule them all). Don’t mind me, I’m just talking in riddles again.

So anyway, I started over again in January, after I signed up for Angie’s TBR challenge. I had already identified this as one of her books that I would like to read again. I had read this in my teens, and other than certain memorable scenes e.g. Lizzie’s rejection of Darcy’s first proposal, her visit to Pemberly and the final scenes where Bingley proposed to, and was accepted by her sister, Jane, the rest of the book is rather hazy. Which is why I resolved to read it again, this time taking my time to let the words sink into my conscious mind.

Do you like the cover?
The cover isn’t exciting, but who cares? I picked it up because it’s Jane Austen!

Did you enjoy the book?
I love, love, love this story! I mean, no matter how some other Janeites think Emma Woodhouse is one Austen’s best creation, Pride & Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart.

Although there are two main characters and their developing relationship is the focus of the tale, Austen has created a vivid impression of their society through many memorable secondary characters, who supported this sparkling comedy of manners and gave an otherwise common preoccupation of females from that era – marrying well – an uncommonly modern appeal, for Lizzie, the spirited and intelligent heroine, has declared that she would marry only for love, an ideal that can be difficult to uphold during those days.

What really captured my interest is the gamut of feelings towards Darcy, our brooding and introverted hero, she experienced through the book. From disdainful and intense dislike, to curiosity, mortification that she could have been so blinded, then grudging admiration and deep gratitude to blossoming affection and finally a love so deep ‘there can be no doubts that we are to be the happiest couple in the world.’

The initial Big-Mis which gave rise to Lizzie’s bad first impression of stuffy Mr. Darcy was good sowing ground for the stirring of intense feelings from both parties. You already wish they both have a chance to start over and fall in love properly, but then that would rob you of the joy of seeing how both characters progress and mature in their feelings, and how each became better because of the other.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again?
Jane Austen is one of the most famous and forward-thinking author of her time!! So no, she was no stranger to me. I am reading another book of hers, Northanger Abbey, having already read Emma before this. I plan to read all her books again.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?
This book is going to become part of my permanent collection. I’ll keep this for the day I can introduce it to my daughter.

Anything else?
I watched the movie starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen when it came to the big screen in December. Just as I was finishing up the book, the video was released, so of course I had to get that and watch it again (they snipped off the final kissing scene that was in the movie but wasn’t in the book) when I finished reading. It made me appreciate the insight that the book provides. The movie was entertaining and contemporarised to suit a modern audience. One of my girlfriends told me that she finally understood what the book was all about after watching the movie.

I can certainly relate to that because the language used is a lot more deliberate and eloquent than contemporary English. That said, there were some phrases that I think would be hard to match in modern literature, like the classic which began the story,

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

and these when feelings were declared, from her rejection

“and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

to acceptance and love:

“Perhaps I did not always love him so well as I do now.” “You will only think that I feel more than I ought to do, when I tell you all.”

on falling in love with Darcy:

“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began…”

Darcy’s first rather clumsy but impassioned proposal to Lizzie:

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

and his rather cautious but hopeful second overture much later (after being roundly abused and harshly rejected),

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”

and his account of falling in love with Lizzie:

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which I laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

And that is exactly how falling in love can be. You’re already in way too deep before you realised it. Trust Austen to pin it down and find the words for it. Perhaps you’ll understand now why P&P had me in raptures. This is a book that I will read over and over again, slowly so I don’t miss every nuance.

2 thoughts on “My Historical for March’s TBR Challenge

  1. Oh, thank you so much for those wonderful quotes. I could almost recite them by heart. It’s so surprising to find romance lovers who still have not read this. I reread it at least once a year. Great review.

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