Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (unabridged audiobook read by Kate Reading, 12 hrs on 10 CDs): Yes, I am just now, at 34 years of age, reading Pride and Prejudice. No, I never had to read it for school. Yes, I’ve seen the mini-series and recent film. I know the story. I’d just never read the book, but it shows up on “OMG BEST BOOKS EVAR” lists again and again, so I figured I might as well. That, and my next book on hold at the library hadn’t come in yet.

But anyway. Since everyone and their kid brother knows the story (and if you don’t, you should), I won’t go into it here. I was most amused by Lydia’s obliviousness and Lady Catherine’s snobbery, though many of the characters had their moments. The romance between Elizabeth and Darcy was ultimately a lot more believable than I’d expected at the beginning.

Some of the naming conventions confused me. None of the men were ever called by their first names, not even by their wives. Married women lose their first names as well, to the point where Lydia refers to “my aunt Philips” at least once. People refer to their relatives as “my” even when speaking with a joint relative; this would be like me talking to my sister about “my parents,” as if they weren’t hers as well. “Miss Bennet” was thrown around seemingly at random; at one point Jane and Lizzie were referred to as “Miss Bennet and Elizabeth”. Very strange.

Where does all the money come from? I get that people inherit their wealth, but nobody works, so surely the money runs out after a finite number of generations. I also noticed that it could be kind of stressful as a woman, since no matter how wealthy your father is, you have to marry well or go join a convent. Charlotte’s open-eyed decision to marry for financial security instead of love was a little sad but totally understandable. Anyway, it was kind of fun to read about the petty little dramas of the idle rich, and it’s a good book to have read, if only to recognize the allusions that show up in so many other stories.

A note on the audio: Reading’s character voices were subtle but quite distinct. I hope she reads other classic novels.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

  1. Funnily enough, I’ve never read it not seen any film adaptations, and I *don’t* know the story! I guess I should rectify that.

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