Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen (audio)


I may be the last person on earth to read this book, and assuredly the last to read Jane Austen. It's embarrassing, really. I have recently been lamenting at the lack of exposure I received in high school and college to the literary classics. It makes me feel a bit cheated. I need direction, discussion and analysis! I need hand-holding! These things aren't always easy to read or understand! (Note to self: do not read classics on audio tape. It seemed like a good idea at the time, since I have more time to multi-task than I do sitting down to read. The narrator sounded like a stressed-out Maggie Smith. Love her to death, but ten discs of shrilly, tremulous narration, with little variation of tone from character to character is very hard to bear and even harder to concentrate on.)

OK. That all being said, I absolutely LOVED this book. What the hades have I been doing the last 42 years? Jane Austen is a genius, and all of her works need to be bestowed upon me, soon. Then I think I need to read about Jane Austen, as I understand her biography is as good as her books. As a side note, I have not seen anything remotely related to Jane Austen or her novels in movie form. I'm not generally drawn to period movies. I think I will be rearranging my Q on Netflix, however.


I'm thinking I don't really need to tell you all what the book is about. You already know, right? Well, just for grins, here is the nickel tour. We have the middle-class Bennett family with five girls. They are all a-twitter over some new, available bachelors moving into the neighborhood. These girls need to be married off, you know. Our heroine, Elizabeth, the second to oldest, and a strong independent gal, has taken an immediate dislike to one of the new guys in town, Mr. Darcy. He appears pompous, prideful and rude. She later hears rumors of his having wronged people important to Elizabeth, and decides he is the most despicable person she has ever known. She lets him know, too. Of course, we all know how this kind of thing goes. She discovers later, to her horror, that Mr. Darcy has been unfairly judged. They eventually resolve their misunderstandings, fall in love, and live happily ever after. I will admit, its predictable, but it's all good. This is the classic romantic comedy... maybe even the pioneer of the genre.

There are obviously other plots to the story, all of which are very laugh-out-loud entertaining. With the exception of the oldest sister Jane, Elizabeth's family is a bit of a freak show. A meddling, materialistic mother, an uninvolved father, one nerdy little sister, and two other little sisters that are obnoxious little snots that are determined to nab a military officer and beat their older sisters to the alter. We have the cousin that stands to inherit the Bennett home when Daddy Bennett dies, who breezes into town looking for a wife, any wife will do. When spurned by Elizabeth, he grabs the neighbor spinster Charlotte, and throws Mrs. Bennett into a jealous tirade. There is Mr. Darcy's aunt, of noble blood, that thinks the whole Bennett family is beneath her. Austen insightfully portrays the disparity between the classes. Perfectly titled, the story is also a fine character study of those who are either waylaid or completely derailed by their pride and prejudices they hold against others.

I am open to suggestions as to the next Jane Austen novel I should read!

12 comments:

Carrie K. said...

Read Persuasion next. I love both P&P, but Persuasion is my favorite. Plus, since P&P is her first and Persuasion her last (completed one, anyway), you can see how her writing style matures and evolves. Persuasion is the only Austen I've read twice.

Oh, also - when you watch a film version of Pride and Prejudice, do the A&E mini-series version with Colin Firth first. The Keira Knightley one is just okay compared to the other one.

Not to be bossy or anything. ~wink~ I tend to get a little opinionated when it comes to Austen - and when it comes to who plays Darcy.

Literary Feline said...

I am so glad you enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, Sandy. It's my favorite so far of the Austen books. I've only read this one, Persuasion and Emma so far. I hope to eventually read all of the Austen books. I love her style.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Thanks for the advice, Carrie and Wendy! I will get Persuasion next. I'm so looking forward to reading everything she wrote. And thanks for the head's up on the movie, Carrie. I figured since Kiera Knightly won an Oscar, it would be the better one. I like Colin Firth!

Melody said...

I love P&P! It's one of my favourite Austen's books (although I've only read two books by her)! And I just love the film adaptation (the one with Keira Knightley).

I'm hoping to read all Austen's books in the near future! ;)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - I know, reading this was a joy. I have quite a list of books on my dance card, but I intend to get to more of Jane Austen this year. She's wonderful. Based on the recommendations, I'll probably grab Persuasion next!

Beth F said...

I read this many times, but I listened to it for the first time in early 2008. Audiobook fans: This is a fantastic listen. Perfect for audio.

P&P is one of favorite books.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Beth - I wonder if you had the same narrator as I did? The narrator I had almost made me stop listening! I plunged through it, though, and loved it! I went out today and bought a two volume set of all of Jane Austen's works.

Beth F said...

The narrator was Kate Reading, whom I usually like.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Mine was Flo Gibson. I guess that is the perfect example of how an audio recording can make or break a book! And even though I thought she was horrid, I still loved the book, which is even more of a tribute to Ms. Austen!

Anna said...

I'm glad you liked it! I have no recommendations, as I've only read Sense and Sensibility (back in high school and don't remember it) and Mansfield Park (which was only okay) besides P&P. I hear Persuasion is good, so that'll probably be my next Austen whenever I get around to reading her again.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Marg said...

Not the last person to read the book. Yesterday I loaded this onto my MP3 player to listen to for the first time! I am looking forward to listening to it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Anna - I will probably read Persuasion next, but am planning on reading them all eventually!

Marg - Well, despite my bad narrator (hope you got the good one!) I loved the book. I hope you will too!