It will not be a surprise to those of you who have followed this blog for sometime that I was able to maneuver a second read of Jane Austen into my calendar this year. It just happened to be the same I read back in January. If you really want a laugh, go read my fan-boy love letter to Austen for that response here. I’ve tried to rein it in a bit for this response, but let’s face it that’s not really going to happen.
As I said back in January, very little can be added to the conversation that hasn’t been said. But EVERY single re-read brings something different to light. For instance this time the one scene that particularly stood out to me was when Lydia and her friends made a young male character dress in drag. I mean really? Weren’t they all prim and proper back then? It just made me laugh at the whimsical way in which Austen described it and everyone partook of the action.
In addition to the scene above I found myself thoroughly enjoying the other Bennett sisters in this re-read. As great a heroine as Lizzie Bennett is, she is definitely flawed. Although Jane is not as outspoken or as seemingly bitter as Lizzie, but she is an amazing observer. It is fascinating that many of her observations at the beginning of the novel are set up in exact opposite to Lizzie. Although often interpreted as a negative trait, I think it is fascinating to think of Jane in contrast to Lizzie. Yes, Jane is rather naive and entirely way too nice for the world, but she correctly reads Darcy and Bingley at the beginning and then the world takes its harshness out on her.
In addition to Jane, there are Mary and Kitty which are both fascinating characters even though they’re mostly absent from the book. Austen makes a brief mention of them at the end of the novel
“Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters. In society so superior to what she had generally known, her improvement was great…Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by Mrs. Bennet’s being quite unable to sit alone. Mary was obliged to mix more with the world…” (321-322)
I would be fascinated to read an fan-fiction novel about either Mary or Kitty. Mary is this fascinating creature stuck in the middle of two beautiful and intelligent sisters and two seemingly dimwitted and fluffy sisters. What is her motivation? What happens to her? I can easily imagine her coming out of her shell now that three of her sisters are away from Longburn and I would love to know her story. And what about Kitty? She clearly suffers from Lydia’s overpowering personality and once Lydia is removed from the picture she appears to become a well-adjusted young woman. I’m not sure any fan-fiction pieces exist about these two, but it would be great if they did!
Finally, I have to mention it once again, the swoon factor of this novel is so high it’s not even funny. The number of times I found myself with my hand on my chest or over my mouth because it was so romantic or swoon-inducingly adorable is uncountable. As soon as I started this re-read I found myself grinning ear-to-ear waiting for scenes which I love to hurry up and arrive. I may have to seriously consider a yearly re-read I enjoyed both my reads this year!
Recommendation: READ IT! And it only gets better with re-reads, you notice more, you pick up new ideas. I also think it is (one of) the most approachable of Austen’s novels, the language isn’t as bogged down or archaic as some of the others and the story flows effortlessly.
Opening Line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
Closing Line: “With the Gardiners they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, rally loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from Pride and Prejudice
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation, and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.” (21)
“How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tired of anything than a book! WhenI have a house of my own I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” (48)
“I am going to-morrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all.” (132)
“‘I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,’ said Darcy, ‘ of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.’” (149)
“He certainly looked at her friend a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. I twas an earnest, steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.” (154)
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” (160)
“She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both—by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgment, information and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.” (259)
“She remembered that he had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin.” (310)