I have to whole-heartedly agree with the millions of fans over generations that declared Pride and Prejudice one of the best books ever written. I loved P&P from start to finish!
* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Elizabeth is the second eldest out of five daughters in the Bennett family. Perhaps because the family is not rich and has poor connections, Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennett is obsessed with marrying off her daughters to wealthy suitors. Things get interesting in their small community with the arrival of Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young man who brings along a small entourage consisting of his best friend, Darcy, his two sisters and brother-in-law. At a ball held shortly after the newcomers’ arrival, the Bennett family quickly discerns that jovial Bingley is attracted to eldest daughter, Jane, and fellow bachelor Darcy is nothing but arrogant and rude. In particular, Darcy slights Elizabeth not knowing she can hear every insult and this first impression influences her interaction with Darcy at future encounters. Even though her opportunities for marriage are limited, he is the last person in the world she would ever consider romantically. And so begins the tale of the lives and loves of the Bennett sisters, as seen through the eyes of Elizabeth.
Pride and Prejudice is the ultimate romantic comedy which is probably why it has been adapted every which way imaginable. I laughed, gasped, worried and felt every frustration, hope, regret and desire along with Lizzy Bennett. She is an admirable heroine for being smart, independent, level-headed and humble enough to learn from her mistakes. Even though I knew the ending, the will-they or won’t-they tension of Elizabeth and Darcy’s courtship had me speed reading to find out what happened next.
As much as I was pleased with the happy ending, I found it a little hard to swallow that Darcy turned out to be such a softie in great contrast to who we meet at that very first ball.
Pride and Prejudice is not only a love story, but Austen’s examination of nineteenth century society and the opportunities or limitations young women faced due to their family, class and financial situation. I can’t imagine what it would be like for marriage to be one’s sole purpose day in and day out, with that fate determined sometimes by other people and sometimes just plain luck. You can’t help rooting for Elizabeth and Jane to find love and happiness, especially when up against so many obstacles both at home and in society. People are just downright mean to these girls! But at the end of the day, they have the last laugh and that’s what makes Pride and Prejudice such a satisfying read.
I read P&P for Austen in August 2014.