Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pulling Out A Classic ~ A Peek At My Bookshelf

The best laid plans... I hoped to share with you a brand new book this month. However, I neglected to get the interview questions to the author in time, so... that post has been slightly delayed. Looks like you'll get two book highlights this month. Consider it your lucky summer.

Instead, I take you back to my bookshelf to pull out the only classic residing on my re-read shelf. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

First, A Confession

Don't like this cover?
This webpage picked the top ten
Pride and Prejudice book covers. 
I am not Jane Austen's biggest fan. I can't tell you the ins and outs of all her different characters. In fact, aside from Pride and Prejudice I can't keep straight which characters go in which book. Except for Emma. I'm pretty sure she belongs to the book Emma. Just a hunch.

The story in Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites, though. The growth and interaction with the characters is a timeless look at the human condition. As evidenced by many movie renditions and written variations, the story is easily adaptable to just about anywhere.

The Book

Pride and Prejudice was Jane's second published full length novel. Letters to her sister indicate that she thought the book was a bit too light and breezy, but she liked it well enough. That lightness may very well be what has allowed this book to transcend time and remain a favorite of so many people. Had she included a treatise to Sir Walter Scott in the middle, it might not be as appealing.

Original Title Page
The book follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet, the second daughter of a country gentleman, as she traverses the ins and outs of society and family in rural England. As the name implies, the main characters develop incorrect ideas about each other at the beginning of the book and then are unwilling to bend enough to let them go. Mr. Darcy of romantic fame is the eventual love interest of the witty Miss Elizabeth Bennet. He is very well off and his nose is tilted high enough to prove it. Life continues to throw them into each others' path until they finally learn about each other and about themselves.

There is a great deal of wit and sly humor that may fly over a modern reader's head, but there is still plenty to enjoy about the book. Elizabeth endures ridiculous and silly relations, snobbish machinations of those "higher" in society, the misleading charms of a rogue, and countless other relatable encounters.

The Legacy

While all of Austen's novels have been adapted into movie and television versions, none has had so much screen time as Pride and Prejudice. Movie versions set in different time periods and cultures abound. My personal favorite is the 1995 mini-series adaptation with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. There is even a book and a movie that portray the classic story with a Zombie twist. I shudder to think what that entails. I must admit I have no intention of reading or seeing it.

Spin offs of the story are even more plentiful. Multiple authors have put their spin on what they think happened after Austen wrote "The End". Several years ago a mini-series called Lost in Austen plugged into every Jane Austen fan's dream and put a modern day woman into Elizabeth's shoes. While I found the show to be okay for the most part, the end was worth watching the whole thing.

There's even a children's board book version.

If you plan on watching the mini-series, don't view this clip which is near the end of the show. Darcy has just declared his love for Amanda (the modern day woman). She has an interesting response. If, after watching the clip, you aren't doubled over laughing you either A) haven't seen the 1995 P&P with Colin Firth, or B) have forgotten this scene.

The Take-away

Jane Austen
In my opinion, if you're new to Austen's works and want a place to start, Pride and Prejudice is a good place. The characters are unique, the writing is funny, and the story is a well-loved classic.

And, if you haven't watched the 1995 movie version, find yourself a rainy afternoon and enjoy. And it will take you all afternoon. It's about five hours long.

The book, Pride and Prejudice can be found at nearly any book retailer. Used copies are pretty prevalent as well.

The Lost In Austen mini-series is available for instant view from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video Download. Some people love it, some people hate it, I thought it was okay.

Movie versions are available in a plethora of places. From Netflix the 1980 mini-series is available for instant viewing. (I don't have DVD subscription so I don't know what's available there.) Amazon Instant Video Download has the 1980 mini-series, the 2005 Keira Knightley version, the 1940 Laurence Olivier rendition, and my personal favorite, the 1995 mini-series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.


  1. i think i may have seen the mini series but would like to watch it again!

  2. I have it on DVD. It is a well-watched DVD. Colin Firth makes the best Mr. Darcy.