I do not feel qualified in writing a review of such a beloved and well-known novel. Instead, I offer my thoughts upon reading such a novel.
First, I will admit that I was highly intimidated and nervous to read such a book. I have checked out Austen books again and again, but I never could bring myself to open them. I continually returned them unread. To be quite honest, I had a lot of fear. I feared that I wouldn’t get it. And if I didn’t get it, then that must mean I am not as smart as I like to think I am. I also was afraid I wouldn’t like it. So many people love Jane Austen. There are scads of companion novels and book variations and zombies and films devoted to her. Jane Austen is an icon. I feared that if I didn’t at least like this book, then something may just be wrong with me.
So you can see, there was quite a deal of self-induced pressure. It’s no wonder it’s taken me over fifteen years to finally open the cover rather than just stare at it. So what prompted this plunge beyond the cover? Well, Izzy’s unabashed adoration of Austen and Darcy piqued my curiosity. Molly’s consistent encouragement to hit the classics certainly helped. During some good discussion in the comments section of one of her posts, there was mention of at least reading one classic a year. Upon reading that statement, I thought, hey, I can do that. I also like to challenge myself, so Jane Austen it was.
However, I did not trust myself to just read it like that. I did have a history of good intentions but zero follow through, ya know. Thus, I enlisted my friend A. to read it with me. We take turns picking books to read together, then we schedule a skype chat to discuss. It was my turn to pick the book so I chose Pride and Prejudice. Knowing someone was reading with me and that there would be a discussion at the end of it, provided the motivation I needed. Of course I waited until she finished it to start. But it gave me the necessary final push to get over my fears and read the book already!
It is an odd experience to read a book that is so well-known. The characters are not strangers to me. I know their names. I know who ends up together. But I know nothing of the story itself. I have to admit for the first half of the book, I was utterly confused why everyone is so damn in love with Darcy. We all need more Darcy in our lives? Those are some strong words to live up to. During the first half of the book, I wasn’t getting it. At all. He seemed like a complete jerk. So I read on waiting to see how he redeems himself and becomes this character that all the (Austen-loving) world adores. I suppose I was like Elizabeth in that respect. I experienced Darcy in the manner she did. In short, I was flat-out duped. I have to say once I realized I had been deceived, I became enamored with Darcy far more quickly than Elizabeth herself realized her own feelings.
I did find the story difficult to get into at first. I had to re-commence the book a few times. But once I got past the first few chapters, the book grew on me. I really enjoyed the writing style. The dialogue was so clever and intelligent. I really enjoyed the usage of words. Instead of talking with people, crushing on someone, or having a bubbly personality, one has an interview (or conference)’ one is partial; or one has a sunny disposition.
It was a rocky start, but I get it. I understand why Jane Austen has inspired such devotion in her readers. I can’t say that I am head over heels or that P&P is my favorite all time book; however, I can say that I am no longer afraid of Austen. I have even acquired two more of her books. And, I daresay, that I may re-read Pride and Prejudice some time in the near future. And possibly watch the movie!