Book review: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pride and Prejudice is a well-known Austen title – a book which is often listed as a ‘must-read’ for any lover of literature. With movie and TV show adaptations, readers can easily learn the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet through the visual medium, but it is another to read the story in typical Austen style yourself.

I attempted to read Pride and Prejudice back in 2013, but I got to page fifty and had to put the book away. I couldn’t deal with Austen’s writing style, which is very confusing at times and – if nothing else, incredibly long. My friend Andrea worded it perfectly in a conversation we had two days ago:

“Instead of saying: ‘Mrs Bennet went to the kitchen’, Austen will write: ‘Mrs Bennet, who was angry because of a thing Mr. Collins had said about Lizzie even though nobody had asked his opinion- and in her opinion his was of little consequence, went into the kitchen’.”

This is her way of writing throughout the whole 365 pages of the novel, and it required all of my attention to stick with the story. Though very aware of the love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, the workings of their family and even some knowledge on the sisters and Mr. Bingley, it was a different experience reading the book. I’d seen the movie before, so reading about familiar scenes that were also in the movie was a nice way to go through the book – it helped me.
I was fond of Elizabeth as a main character and I loved Mr. Darcy as the main male. Their romance was not insta-love, which is probably why the book also appeals to so many people. Their relationship developed over the course of the book (though in my opinion it went too slow at points) and was lovely to read about.

My least favourite character was Lydia all times while reading the book, she just annoyed the hell out of me whenever I read about her and to be quite honest, I wanted to read less about her than about Wickham, who is pretty much the ‘bad guy’ if this book would ever have one. She was spoiled, annoying, selfish and incredibly greedy and it bothered me every page she was mentioned. When most of the chapters revolved around her, I felt the urge to drop the book all together. Aside from that, Mrs. Bennet – if she was intended to be loveable, she never was to me. Lydia took after her, which meant that she was equally as irritating.

I’ve briefly touched upon the writing style, and it truly was a problem for me to stick with the story because of it. With English not being my first language, reading books in English is more demanding than reading them in Dutch in the first place, let alone if an author like Austen decides to overly describe everything – down to the pebbles in the gravel. I don’t know why, but I deal better with the way historical fiction like books in the War of the Roses era or the Tudor era are written. If you have issues with complicated wording, Austen will be something to get used to.

A 3.5-star rating from me, which corresponds to a 4-star rating on Goodreads.

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