5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Beyond giving you the rating, I don’t think this is going to be a proper review. I’m just going to talk about one of my favorite classics.
This is not the 2nd or even 3rd read of this. I don’t remember when I first read Austen. I will tell you that I was resistant for a long time – I thought they were stupid romances. I didn’t want to read insipid, stupid romances.
Wow. What an idiot me-of-the-past was. Jane Austen, should she hear of this, will probably rise from her grave and come to my house to haunt and beleaguer me for my stupidity. God, I hate past, dumbass me. I do know how I found Jane Austen and finally came to read her. I came across a period movie on tv. I love period movies and shows. ???? I know, I know. The person who didn’t want to read stupid insipid romances loves period romance. But you see, I believed her to be INSIPID. I didn’t consider Dickens, Gaskell, Wharton, or the Brontes insipid. I don’t know why I assumed Jane Austen would be. But here is Keira Knightly in this ugly brown dress, looking gorgeous, despite the ugly brown dress, swapping witticisms with a gorgeous and brooding Matthew MacFadyen who I. Am. In. Love. With. I was captured, engaged, enraptured, entranced…. and then I clicked to see what the show was (this was back in the day when I had digital cable). I was shocked. It was Pride and Prejudice by Jane. Austen. I felt stupid. I downloaded the book before the movie was over and inhaled it, then I read every other book and watched every other miniseries and movie (except the modern interpretations cuz ain’t nobody got time for that) and since then have been a die hard Jane fan.
What is it that is so amazing about this book? Dammit if I know. What’s not to love? What’s not amazing? Witty dialog and prose. Amusing characters. Love. Marriage. Elopements. Crazy ass family members. It’s just a great big pot of fun. Basically, the Bennets have five daughters and a medium sized estate that is entailed to the male line. This means, with no sons, when papa Bennet dies, the family will lose the house and the vast majority of their income to the nearest male relation, Mr. Bennet’s nephew, an idiot vicar named Mr. Collins. Therefore, Mrs. Bennet’s sole concern in her life, besides her nerves, is getting her daughters married off. And it’s where much of the drama and comedy come from.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession of good taste must be in want of a witty, satirical, novel full of amusing characters in which to lose themself. Themselves. I don’t know. But regardless. Jane Austen is hysterical. She peoples her novels with a variety of flawed individuals for us to enjoy, and sometimes manages to make those flaws advantages. I love Elizabeth Bennet – she is one of my favorite female heroines. However, it seems like that for all she is loved, there are those intellectuals/academics who paint her as a shrew that’s difficult to be around. I disagree. She might have a sharp tongue, but her wit and good nature probably make up for whatever bitchiness she flashes on occasion. I guess her angry dislike of Mr. Darcy is a sign of her quick temper, but I understood it. I mean, who is going to like someone who says, within their hearing, that they aren’t pretty enough to dance with? And then, through artifice, removes ones sister’s love interest from the vicinity?? Who? Who is going to sit by and let that happen and not get a little salty? Her eagerness to dislike him actually made her real to me. I understand that kind of dislike. I just hate injustices like the ones Mr. Darcy commits.
And then there is Mr. Darcy. For all the he is a bit of a dick on first blush, when he begins to fancy our heroine, he definitely grew on me. Also, I will admit I love a brooding Englishman. I just find them so damn sexy. I don’t know why. I guess it’s my white girl I-wann-be-oppressed-by-a-man-in-a-big-mansion syndrome, which must be a thing. Now we have some idea that he is a decent human being. First – he’s Bingley’s friend. Bingley is a sweetheart and wouldn’t be best friends with a dick. Second: he is devoted to his sister. This is always a good sign in a man. And it’s through these things that we learn who he truly is, as well as his love of Elizabeth. When she gives him a verbal beat down, despite being really pissy about it at first, he listens to what she says and he alters his behavior. He learns from seeing himself through her eyes. Elizabeth kinda does the same thing. I know there is the snarky quip that she falls in love with him when she sees his giant house. No. She hears his housekeeper sing his praises and say that he is a good hearted person who has never raised his voice in anger to a servant.
Basically, I just love this bundle of historical goodness. If you’ve held off, I don’t know if this mess of a ramble will convince you to do it or not, but I really recommend Jane Austen. Her work is funny and smart, feminist in nature, and most of all, entertaining. You can start with the movie and miniseries adaptations – but I heartily recommend the books.
Also – I forgot. I am doing this because of the Austentatious Goodreads Group started by Read by Zoe on Youtube – or @zoeherdt on Twitter, that will be re-reading all the Austen books over the next 6… well now I guess it’s 5 months. Here is a video by Zoe about it. I’m very excited to read all the books again – especially as I haven’t yet read from these fancy editions that I bought last Christmas – except for Northanger Abbey.