This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My first novel after finishing the, so far, five tome Song of Ice and Fire series.  As I write this post on the flight back to Raleigh, I think about the flight _from_ Raleigh, when my 'world' was still in Westeros. 

It is also my first true novel I have finished in the new year. Before we left for the Philippines, I wanted to stock up on some books, as I knew I would have the time to read like crazy on about 18 hours of flight time ( not including layovers, mind you). 

I was ready for some fun reading: chick lit, romance, something along that line. I couldn't find any thy would be readily available to me from the library, as I waited until the last minute to choose my books. Well, I couldn't find any to my finicky taste. 

For whatever reason, I felt like a Jane Austen book would fit the bill. I looked for any but the only one available at my closest library was Pride and Prejudice. 

Do I need to mention a spoiler alert for this classic?

Unlike Charlotte Bronte, Austen has a style of writing that was very difficult for me to read. I almost gave up within the first few pages but I felt that, at some point, I'd get the rhythm of her style. 

I did and I didn't. 

It became easier to read once I got into it but that doesn't mean it was easy. It seemed that I could get the gist of what I just read by reading further and piecing the events together. I'm not sure if I will be able to read more Jane Austen, although I haven't ruled it out yet since I did enjoy the story. 

Elizabeth Bennet, the main character of this story, is a wonderfully strong-willed young lady. I imagine this is probably not typical of the 19th century. Her sisters are pretty meek and she has a strong bond with her older sister Jane (which I found quirky since there is a Jane in Jane Eyre, one of my favorite books and female characters). 

Lizzy's mom is ready to marry off her daughters, so they can be provided for, as being non-male children, they will not inherit thief father's estate. Instead, the closest male relative, by law, will inherit his estate and that person happens to be a cousin. He pays a visit to see his future estate, as well as choose one of the five Bennet daughters for a wife. A belief that he held as being holier-than-thou, allowing one of the daughters to still have the estate. 

After learning Jane may be betrothed to another, he chooses Lizzy, who spurns him. He doesn't take it well, and actually doesn't believe her and thinks she's just playing hard-to-get, but eventually he gets the picture and chooses her friend instead.

Meanwhile, a tense relationship takes place with the aloof Mr. Darcy. Lizzy finds him arrogant; Darcy finds her endearing. And it takes the entire fricking novel for any major spark to occur between them. 

In fact, Mr. Darcy appears only a few times throughout the story...the res being entirely about Lizzy, her social life, the family issues, and then Mr. Darcy. 

I loved the relationship between them and would have preferred more interaction between them. I loved Lizzy and her attitude. At one point, she says to her sister, after her sister sees the brighter side of a devastating  heartache:

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and everyday confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense. 

This reminds me of my favorite quote from Jane in Jane Eyre, where she speaks of vengeance on the people that do harm to others. While not quite the same, it's still a dissatisfaction with people and their inability to do the right thing. 

I manage to finish this book in just a couple of days. It helped to be sick and have nothing else to do but read. I may try another Austen book.  I so love the movies. 

Which brings me to the eerie sense I had about this book as I read it. I knew the storyline. I vaguely had a sense of all the characters and situations that would be occurring but not entirely. I am quite sure I have never ad Pride and Prejuidice, nor have I a recollection of watching its movie. I didn't even have actors in the scenes, but I did have visuals from some long lost memory. It still remains a mystery as how I might have known this. Maybe I am Jane Austen reincarnated... :)

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