Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
1813,  281 pgs

My Summary

The Bennets have five daughters and no sons.  Since their home and property is entailed, the daughters only have small dowries and Mrs. Bennett is fixated on each of them marrying well.  The two eldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, are bright, intelligent women.  Jane is kinder and believes the best out of everyone and Elizabeth is very smart, but also willing to hold a grudge.  Their father seems to be a thoughtful man, but their mother is flighty, vain, and shallow and the three youngest sisters take after her. 

A rich bachelor (Bingsley) moves into the neighborhood, along with his sisters and a good friend (Mr. Darcy) and shows an interest in the eldest daughter Jane.  Mr. Bingsley is good looking and well mannered and rich so he’s well liked.   Everyone one is expecting him to propose to Jane.  Mr. Darcy on the other hand, is also rich and good looking, but not as affable and comes across as if he’s above everyone else making him unpopular.  Mr. Darcy has an affection for Elizabeth, but he believes her family beneath him and does not show the affection.  Mr. Bingsley’s entourage (sisters and Mr. Darcy) leave abruptly leaving Jane crushed and mystified.

The Bennets do their best to rally Jane’s spirits by suggesting she visit some friends (in the general area Mr. Bingsley moved too).  But he never visits and Jane is certain that he lost interest.

About the same time Elizabeth goes to stay with a recently married Charlotte (whose husband original proposed to Elizabeth and was refused).  This brings Mr. Darcy back into Elizabeth’s orbit.  A friend of Mr. Darcy’s unknowingly tells Elizabeth that Mr. Darcy convinced his friend Bingsley not to propose to Jane.  The next day Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, but manages to insult her family at the same time plus act like she should be beyond grateful he would deign to marry her.  She refuses, and essential bitches him out for his role in hurting her sister (and another side story that I’m not getting into).

Mr. Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter explaining his side (but not apologizing).  As much as she wants to discount everything he wrote a lot of it rings true and it begins to change her opinion of him.
My Thoughts

I enjoyed the overall story and the characters are excellent.  I definitely identified at times with both Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  I feel like the plot is timeless.  All the character flaws evident in Pride and Prejudice are around today, we just have different reasons for snobbery (no entails but we fawn over celebrity plenty).  Could anyone else totally see Mrs. Bennet as a “Toddler’s and Tiara’s” mom?  She’d have dragged Jane to them until Lydia got old enough.

I just don’t enjoy Jane Austen’s writing style and I want to.  I admire her and I think she does some interesting things, but I just find it a chore to wade through her books.  I’d rather find out a character’s attributes by reading about their actions rather than two straight paragraphs when the character is introduced telling me exactly what I’m going to think about them.  She uses pronouns really strangely for me – I would frequently have to reread passages to ascertain who the “they” was referring too.  Only to discover that “they” was a what and not a who.

“Mr. Collins repeated his apologies in the quitting room, and was assured with unwearying civility that they were perfectly needless.”

I’ll admit I caught the movie of Pride and Prejudice on TV right before I started the book and I think it helped me get past the mind-numbingly over descriptive parts because I knew something interesting was eventually coming.  

My Rating

Enjoyability (3 out of 5 stars)
Relationships (4 out of 5 stars)
Writing (2 out of 5 stars)

This story will stay with me in some form forever because it is constantly being updated and retold.  I don’t think I will specifically think of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy for much longer though.


  1. I tried to read this book like 3 times and never made it past halfway because of all the description. I am glad that I didn't necessarily miss too much because I am not willing to go back and try this book any more! Also-- yay for getting your classics goal off to a good start!

    1. I read this one, but I think I may get the rest of my classics done with audiobooks when traveling for work.

      Have you read the Poisonwood Bible? I'm on attempt 4 (and halfway done so I should finish this time).

    2. I tried to read it a couple years ago and didn't get very far. I was in grad school at the time, so I think that distracted me from it, but I wasn't so into it that I wanted to try again. Though I always hear amazing things about it. The book I really want to finally finish is Wuthering Heights-- I've gotten halfway through twice and lost interest. It's not a long book, not sure why I can't just power through!

  2. I started it a couple years ago and didn't make it very far. I was in grad school at the time, so I think that distracted me, but I wasn't interested in it enough to pick it back up. Everyone says it is such an awesome book, but I wasn't getting that from what I did read! Good luck with your attempt-- you'll have to let me know if it's worth going back to.

  3. I read this as well for the Back to the Classics Challenge and i was seriously bored through the character development stage of the book. It was the 3rd time I tried to read it and was determined to finish it this time but I agree with you completely. I wanted to finish it to see what the fuss is about and while I enjoyed the end, the beginning was hard for me to get through. I look forward to seeing what else you read for the challenge!