Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review - Pride and Prejudice (Sans Zombies)

Pride and Prejudice
Published in 1813

Written by: Jane Austen

Elizabeth (Lizzy) is one of five daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet--the latter of which is in a mad rush to marry off her daughters to make sure they are well attended to before her husband's death. Let me add here that Mr. Bennet isn't ill or very old from what I gather, but his estate is entailed. Since he and his wife didn't have a son, this means that by law his estate will go to his cousin--his next male heir, leaving his wife and daughters homeless after his death.

I haven't read many classic novels, so I was nervous when I started this book--mostly due to the 19th century language and whether or not I was going to "get it". I decided it would be helpful to pick up a supplemental guide and followed up my reading with a chapter by chapter break-down. Yes, this is a bit nerdy, but it really explained things that I would never have understood, like period etiquette which is a big part of this novel, as well as laws and specific vocabulary.

I really enjoyed this book. I laughed out-loud many times--it's not like I should be surprised. I mean, humor is not a new thing, but I was surprised by the cleverness and wit of some of Austen's characters--Lizzy especially.

I'm also rather fond of Mr. Bennet. Some may claim him to be lazy and apathetic, but I enjoyed his interactions with Lizzy. It's obvious she's his favorite, and he states this at the beginning of the novel when Mrs. Bennet is forcing him to go meet the new, rich and handsome neighbor, Mr. Bingley, by saying, "I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy." He then takes Lizzy's side when Mrs. Bennet thinks Jane or Lydia would be a better match for Bingley. "They are all silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters," he says.

Lizzy meets the rich (and handsome) Mr. Darcy through Bingley, and let's just say that she's not impressed. It only gets worse as she lets the thoughts and feelings of others further deepen her disgust with him. Now, there are revelations and surprises along the way, including marriage (whose?), but I'm not going to spoil that for you.

I feel this book is very much about overcoming first impressions and how easily it is to be influenced or mislead by other people. It also shows that once we have that initial impression in our minds, how hard it is for us to swallow our pride and admit we were wrong. When I decided to read this book for The Back to the Classics Challenge, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I thought it was filled with romantic fluff--fluttering eyelashes and passionate kisses. Now that I think about it, I don't think there's a single kiss in the book. I'm embarrassed that I let my pride and prejudice keep me from reading it (like what I did there?)

10 Things I've Learned About the 19th Century by Reading This Book:

  1. It's cool to marry your first cousin (WTF?)
  2. You can't talk to a man, unless you've been introduced by someone you know first (another man.)
  3. Marriage is FOREVER. Whether for love or security--there's no escaping it!
  4. If your mom is a loud-mouth, rude gossip, it will shame your whole family.
  5. If your spend a week shacked-up with some guy, you have to marry him or none of your sisters will be able to get married--It will bring great shame to the family and NO ONE will want to marry into that.
  6. If you work hard and earn your wealth, you're just not that great.
  7. There are so many card games, you will lose count.
  8. Your home has a fancy name, and you don't want to mow that lawn.
  9. Catty women and gold-diggers are not a new thing.
  10. Careers with the church are not only popular, they're desirable.
During the course of reading Pride and Prejudice, I recalled a YouTube series called The Lizzy Bennet Diaries--put together by Hank Green and Bernie Su. It's a modern adaptation of the novel organized as a vlog (video blog). After I started reading the book, I started watching the series. I wanted to avoid spoilers, so I wouldn't watch anything further than I had read. I just finished the entire series on Friday--all 100 videos. For Literature!

Keep in mind, a lot has changed since this book was written--we don't hop into marriage as easily these days, and we just don't stay married. I'm not saying either period is better than the other, but these videos are definitely a fun way to bring a classic story to modern day. Check them out if you've read the book or haven't--either way, I'm sure you'll enjoy them :).

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? What did you think?

This book can be downloaded for free on Amazon Kindle


  1. Great review -- it's always fun to see the reaction of someone discovering Jane Austen for the first time. If you're interested, I recommend the annotated Austen series edited by David M. Shaphard. He's done nearly all the Jane Austen books so far. They look really long, but they're worth reading for the annotations alone. And the marrying first cousins thing is icky, I'm glad that's not really done any more.

    1. Thank you Karen. I will have to check out that series :)