When starting this post, I was so excited to find an image of the edition of Pride and Prejudice that I have just finished. You see, I was browsing one of my favourite second hand bookshops at the weekend when I came across a complete Folio Society set of Austens, all hardback and stunning and gorgeous, for an amazing price. It was one of my best bookish finds in years, and I knew that as soon as I finished the book I was currently reading, I'd have to read an Austen. In the end, I chose Pride and Prejudice, it's a reread that's on my classics club list, and it felt fitting as it was my first Austen.
I'm sure that most people are familiar with the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters, who are unable to inherit their father's property and will therefore have to live in poverty unless they make sensible marriages. But set against Elizabeth and her older sister Jane's chances are Mrs Bennet's lack of taste or social decorum, Mr Bennet's bluntness, and the silliness of their younger sister Lydia. Of course there are a lot of misunderstandings as Elizabeth navigates the marriage market, but in the end both she and her sister manage to marry for love, conveniently falling in love with men who have the fortune to support them.
Pride and Prejudice will always be a special book to me as it was the first Austen I was ever able to complete on my own. My older sister was a huge Austen fan from her teens, and even studied her work at university, but I could just never get into any of her books. I didn't understand the wit, the social commentary or the understatement of Austen's prose. But finally (and only after watching the BBC mini-series), I was able to fully appreciate Pride and Prejudice and since then, I've not looked back. The more Austen I read and re-read, the more I understand why she is as respected as she is.
On this read, I found myself thinking a lot about mistakes. Both Jane and Lizzy make mistakes, Jane in thinking that Miss Bingley is a good friend, and Lizzy about the characters of Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham. But both are honest about their mistakes and set about fixing them. Although Lizzy in particular feels ashamed after discovering the truth, she is able to explain herself and move on. This is something I struggle with, as I tend to want to hide any mistakes I make and find it hard to forgive myself, let alone others. Jane in particular was good at this - her kindness towards others was matched by her kindess towards herself, and this is something I can learn from.
Now that I have read more (but still not all) of Austen's major novels, Pride and Prejudice is no longer my favourite. I prefer the flawed characters of Emma and particularly Catherine from Northanger Abbey. But it's still a special book, one that I'm sure I will reread many times in the future, getting something new out of each read.
The Classics Club: Book 31/72
My list of titles and reviews can be found here.
I've just watched the BBC series as a station here played a marathon today! I had it on while I was doing chores and it is still magnificent. Yet I haven't read the book since I was 17 and your thoughts on rereading it make me want to explore it again myself. I'm sure I'll see it much differently than I did when I was a teen.ReplyDelete
I don't think the BBC miniseries will ever date, it's just such a good adaptation. I'd be interested to see what you think if you do get around to rereading P&P.Delete
As much as I adore Pride and Prejudice, Anne Elliot from Persuasion is actually my favorite Austen heroine! I don't love Emma though. But, Catherine from Northanger Abbey is awesome too.ReplyDelete
I've not read Persuasion yet, I'm saving it to be the last Austen I get to, as I know I'm going to love it. So I have Mansfield Park, and then Persuasion to go :)Delete
Congrats on finding such a great deal! I have this Folio edition of Mansfield Park, which I really like, but for P&P I sprung for the gorgeous new edition. I think you are right that this particular novel is a bit lacking in shadow (as the author herself remarked)...but it's perfect comfort reading for that reason sometimes. It was also the first Austen I connected to and will always have a special place in my heart.ReplyDelete
I love the Folio Society, I would have a bookshelf full of them if I had the money! P&P is perfectly described as comfort reading :)Delete
Ah, what a lovely find! I'm so envious! And what a great experience to be able to revisit the stories through such amazing editions.ReplyDelete
I know, I was very excited to find the whole boxed set! :)Delete
I'm so jealous of your find! I am still looking for the perfect hardcover editions of Jane Austen's works to gift myself.ReplyDelete
I have to admit I had not heard of Austen until I accidentally came across the BBC miniseries on TV one evening (this might sound like sacrilege to an English reader, but in the Netherlands it is not surprising that you haven't heard of her aged 14). That miniseries probably helped a lot of people to read Austen :-)
Keep a look out for Folio Society books second hand - I love all of their books but can not afford them new. I have managed to find a few online & in second hand shops though.Delete
It makes sense that Austen isn't as big outside of the English-speaking world. What are the classics in the Netherlands, and are any of them available in translation?
What an excellent find! It's always a good time to reread Pride and Prejudice.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful book! I am still looking for some special editions of my favorite Jane Austen books. I particularly like Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Even though I've read both numerous times, I always discover something new to like.ReplyDelete
I'm really excited to eventually get to Persuasion, I'm saving it for last as I'm anticipating that I'm going to love it.Delete
I love Pride & Prejudice, but my favourite Austen will forever be Persuasion. I've still not read (well, not finished) Mansfield Park, but I am certain it would displace my favourite. You have a beautiful edition. I have the Folio Society edition of Persuasion.ReplyDelete
That should read that I am certain Manfield Park will NOT displace my favourite :-)Delete
I have Mansfield Park & Persuasion to go, I'm pretty sure I will enjoy Persuasion the most of those two, so I'm saving that to be the last Austen.Delete
I've finished Mansfield Park & it may surprise you. I consider it her most feminist work. Fanny Price reminds me of Jane Eyre, in a lot of ways.Delete
I don't think I've ever read this book but it's always been on my list to read. I would like to check out the BBC adaptation - I somehow seemed to have missed it!ReplyDelete
Pride and Prejudice is very special to me too - I read it in 1994 after the BBC serial so it was one of my first classics if not my very first, and also because I never read Austen for about fifteen years after and I hated pretty much everything. But then I re-read P&P and I just *got* it and I got Austen. So now I'm re-reading Austen and I have a new appreciation, for which I'm very happy! :)ReplyDelete
Such a good book! And I really enjoyed this post :)
With every re-read of Austen's novels I discover some new dimension to her books. In 2014 I re-read Mansfield Park because of its 200th anniversary (will do the same with Emma this year) and it jumped from my least-favorite Austen to one of the best of the year.ReplyDelete
That happens to me too, with Austen rereads! Pride & Prejudice was one of the worst classics I'd read. Then I reread it, & it became one of the best. :)Delete
I bought physical copies of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility last weekend - and much more excited to read them now than in the form of e-book. I've read Austen books in "reverse" order I think, leaving the most popular ones last (I read Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey first). Your copy is beautiful!ReplyDelete
It was lovely hearing the journey you've gone on with Jane Austen, and subsequently, Pride & Prejudice. Also, your edition looks beautiful!ReplyDelete
I'm going to be joining The Classics Club this year - really need to get my list completed - but I do hope to read more of Jane Austen's works.
Bits & Bobs
I have only read one Austen, which is this one. Because I liked the book so much, I'll definitely be reading more.ReplyDelete