Pride and Prejudice – Book Review

austen

by Jane Austen

First Published: 1813

Pride and Prejudice is one of my more ‘well read’ books.  The dilapidated state of it is evidence of my love for it!  A book falling apart is sad for the reader but must be wonderful for the author, don’t you think?

Jane Austen creates such wonderful, believable characters, you never feel a moment of unease.  Without that distraction, you are free to immerse yourself in the storytelling.

Pride and Prejudice introduces us to the Bennett family of Longbourn, Hertfordshire and focuses mainly on Elizabeth Bennett, the 2nd eldest daughter.  As she and her family maneuver through the politics of an oppressive society, we are entertained by the absurdities of  ‘class’ and perception of respectability. The Bennett daughters are ‘out’ in society but none of them are married yet.  Their mother’s primary goal is to rectify this situation, and her efforts are a source of great embarrassment to the eldest two daughters Jane and Elizabeth.  Society changes dramatically for the girls when a single gentleman of great fortune moves into the shire manor, Netherfield.  After meeting at a public dance, Mr Bingley is enchanted by Jane and his attentions are welcomed by her and her family.  Mr Bingley brings with him into the country, his two sisters, brother in law and his closest friend Mr Darcy.  First Impressions of Mr Darcy leave the Hertfordshire residents very unimpressed and he insults Elizabeth, wounding her pride.  Mr Bingley’s arrival is also timed with the militia encamping in the shire, much to the ecstasy of the two youngest Bennett girls. Forming attachments with or correct opinions of  those gentlemen that now surround them, proves to be difficult when complicated by meddling family, devious intentions, misunderstanding and of course, pride and prejudice.

The adventures of the Bennett daughters explore the deficiency of first impressions and the art of getting to know someone in a society where manners and etiquette make intimacy a challenge. In fact, the book was originally named First Impressions but was rejected for publication in 1797.  Austen revised the text in 1812, renamed it Pride and Prejudice and had it accepted for publication in 1813.

In my opinion, Elizabeth is Austen’s best heroine and should be essential reading for any young woman.  Austen heroines have faults but don’t compromise themselves to achieve everything their heart’s desire.  Neither do they achieve their goals by thinking or acting like men. Despite the era , Elizabeth is a determined character.  She has a strong sense of social justice and believes women are capable and entitled to free thought, love, family and occupation.

I am an avid Austen fan but I feel confident in recommending Pride and Prejudice to anyone with an interest in historical societal structures and human behaviour.

Posted on 28 July '09 by , under Classic Lit, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews.

One Comment to “Pride and Prejudice – Book Review”

#1 Posted by Heather (15.08.09 at 08:33 )

I’m looking forward to rereading P&P! Thanks for the review!