Published by Thomas Egerton on January 28th, 1813
Genres: Adult, Classics, Literature, Romance
Vanity, not love, has been my folly
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
This is probably my favorite “classic” that I’ve ever read. Jane Austen created an absolutely beautiful story. While reading it I could totally imagine ladies of the 19th century being enthralled with the romance – fangirls before fangirls existed. But that’s the thing: it’s a perfectly crafted love story. I’ve always, always adored love-hate relationships and this has got to be the most perfect one. You become totally engrossed in Elizabeth’s thoughts: at first Mr. Darcy is completely intolerable, but in the latter half of the story you start swooning at the mere mention of him. It’s just absolutely beautiful, and I honestly can’t say much more than that. (Who doesn’t know the story anyway, even if only from one of the movie adaptations?)
It’s no surprise that I have to mention that the language is tough. Most people are forced to muddle through this book in high school, which I personally believe is way too early – on top of all the homework and projects and stress to have to focus and concentrate to read something so difficult probably leads to a lot of people disliking the book and/or author (as is the way for many of the classics). For me, there’s even the added challenge of English not being my native language. However, I found that there are a few things that helped with getting through the language:
1. I had seen the movie (Keira Knightley version, although I’ve heard the BBC miniseries is much better). While the movie wasn’t a great copy of the book, as no movies are, it allows you at the very least to know the main storyline. In the book that can get a bit lost in the language.
2. I was reading the book on my lovely e-reader, and I completely abused the dictionary function. I had never really considered using it before, but it was so simple and handy to just tap a word and get the definition. I think that if I was reading a hard copy and had to grab the dictionary every x number of pages I might have given up very quickly.
3. The first 50 pages are the hardest. I think that just takes a considerable amount of self-discipline. After you wrestle through those first pages, Jane Austen becomes a state of mind. You can hear her voice narrating everything and it becomes much, much easier to understand. The flow becomes natural.
In any case, I just adore it. If the love story is not enough, the narration I found was also really nice. Having the different perspectives every once in a while really added to the story, but I didn’t mind the “multiple pov” like I usually do – Austen’s writing style just really flowed so well that it was another perfect addition to the story. I love that there were so many secondary characters that still got equal shares of attention – they weren’t placeholders, or existed for only one purpose. And I thought that was pretty rare for what is, for all intents and purposes, solely a love story. And the last chapter did a very nice job of wrapping that all up. Just another example of how beautiful and carefully Austen crafts the story.