Thursday, June 29, 2017

You Must Allow Me To Tell You How Ardently I Admire And Love You

Hola Readers!  Time for some more Jane Austen and today I get to ramble about my favorite of her books, Pride and Prejudice.  This was the first Austen book I read and to this day it is still my favorite, especially when I remember the era it was written in.  It is the most retold of all the Austen novels and I'm just gonna jump right in.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'm gonna try and keep this brief as there are a zillion sources for really cohesive synopsis...or of course you could just read it.  We open with the news that the Netherfield Manor has been rented by a man of considerable fortune, a Mr. Bingley.  This news allows us to get acquainted with all the Bennet family, who are the main players in the family.  Jane, the eldest daughter is all sweetness and kindness with a beauty to match.  Our girl Elizabeth is smart, fiery and not unattractive.  Mary, moral and scholarly, Kitty a kind of petty and bland follower.  The youngest is Lydia, spoiled, selfish and clueless.  The five girls live with their mother, the over the top, yet very loving Mrs. Bennet, and their father, the calm and detached Mr. Bennet.  The girls are introduced to Mr. Bingley, his two sisters and his friend the soon to be infamous Mr. Darcy at a local ball.  Mr. Bingley is charming and already half in love with Jane, but Mr. Darcy is proud, arrogant and makes the mistake of snubbing Elizabeth, leading the family and the town in general to dislike him.  Jane continues to be a favorite of Mr. Bingley and is invited by his sisters for dinner.  At Netherfield, Jane catches a bad cold and is forced to stay. Elizabeth goes to stay with her and consequently spends time with the family.   Mr. Darcy finds himself intrigued by the spirited Elizabeth, while Mr. Bingley's sisters...especially Caroline...the single one are not as thrilled to find themselves in competition with her fine eyes.  Meanwhile the militia has come to reside in town, bringing with it the dashing and charming Mr. Wickham.  Wickham has the prior acquaintance of Mr. Darcy and regales Elizabeth with the details of his abuse at the hands of said gentleman.  This further colors Elizabeth's bad opinion of Mr. Darcy.  Bingley holds a ball at Netherfield where it is evident that he is very much in love with Jane, and that Jane feels the same.  Unfortunately the rest of the Bennet family (excepting Elizabeth) acts in a very un mannerly way.  A few days later word comes that the family has left Netherfield for London and has no idea when...or if they will come back.  Amidst this chaos, Mr. Collins, a nephew of Mr. Bennet comes to stay with the family. Mr. Collins is ridiculous, simpering and completely unaware.  He is also the fortunate clergyman of the formidable Lady de Bourgh...who takes an undue interest in him and his house.  He comes with the intention of marrying one of the girls, as when Mr. Bennet dies the whole of Longbourn estated (the Bennet family home) will go to him due to an entail.  He chooses Elizabeth, who wisely refuses him based on so many factors.  He does not take the rejection well and ends up at Lucas Lodge, the home of Charlotte Lucas, a friend of Elizabeth's.  He "falls in love" with Charlotte and the two are married.  Jane goes to London to try and recover her spirits at the loss of Mr. Bingley.  Elizabeth travels to visit with Charlotte after her marriage.  While there Elizabeth meets the Lady de Bourgh, who turns out not only to be Mr. Darcy's aunt, but hints that her sickly daughter is intended as his bride.  At some point during her stay, Mr. Darcy and his cousin come to stay with Lady de Bourgh and Elizabeth and he once again are thrown together.  Mr. Darcy comes to Elizabeth and his famous proposal was made.  Elizabeth's equally famous rejection is given.  Mr. Darcy
delivers a letter or Elizabeth addressing her accusations of him separating Mr. Bingley and Jane, and the bad stuff he did to Mr. Wickham.   He cops to separating the couple based on his being convinced that she did not really love him, also on the complete and utter lack of propriety shown by most of her family.  As far as Mr. Wickham goes...well let's just say he was a very bad boy and is lucky that Mr. Darcy didn't do more to utterly destroy him.   Ok moving on (we are only halfway through...)  Elizabeth returns home to the news that the militia....including Mr. Wickham are to be moved to the sea town of Brighton.  Lydia is desperate to go, as they are essentially her whole source of entertainment.  For once Mr. Bennet denies his wife and daughter and staunchly opposes the deal.  Lydia however is given another chance when she is invited specifically by one of the officers wives.  Though Elizabeth begs her father not to let her go, he gives his consent.  Elizabeth's aunt and uncle take her on a trip to visit the county of Derbyshire...which just happens to contain the famous Pemberly, of which Mr. Darcy is master.  After learning that the family is gone for the summer, the trio decide to visit it.  Of course since this is a book....Mr. Darcy comes home early much to the embarrassment of Elizabeth.  Mr. Darcy surprises everybody by acting the perfect gentleman.  He comes and visits Elizabeth, bringing with him his sister and Mr. Bingley.  A couple of visits shows us that Mr. Darcy still has feelings for Elizabeth, and she finds herself warming to this improved Mr. Darcy.  Of course we need some sort of drama so Elizabeth receives a couple of letters from Jane.  They detail the saga of Lydia and her potential elopement with Mr. Wickham...then further news comes that they are somewhere in London most definitely not married.  Elizabeth tells Mr. Darcy the news then goes home with her aunt and uncle to deal with the crisis.  After much ado word comes that Lydia and Wickham are finally married and to be sent up North.  The pair stop by Longbourn on their way North and Lydia lets it slip that Mr. Darcy was the reason for their marriage. This of course just adds to Elizabeth's growing love.  The Bennet family is surprised to receive a visit from the Lady de Bourgh.  She pulls Elizabeth aside with the intent of securing a promise from her to never marry Mr. which Elizabeth pretty much just laughs.  Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley come back to Netherfield.  Mr. Bingley immediately renews his attentions to Jane, resulting in an engagement.  Shortly after, Mr. Darcy feels out Elizabeth and finding her own feelings changed to a much more loving tone also proposes.  The girls get married to their men, continue to take care of their families and live ever after.   Whew...sorry....that was really long.
World Building - This story is set in 17th century England, mostly in the countryside.  It is what most people consider historical fiction...except it wasn't written as historical it's just fiction.  Anyways.  Mereton, Longbourn, Kent, Rosing Park, Pemberly, Netherfield, all of these places have been created so well that many people think that they are real.  I find it interesting that the author mixes real places (England, London, various counties) and places of complete and utter fiction (see above).  The seamlessness of these two types of places just adds to the overall completeness off the world.  Not bad for world building.

Story - As always, Ms. Austen likes to have multiple threads of story, usually all culminating together.  I like how at first glance there seems to be several disparate story lines, but by the end of the book we see how they are all connected.  While there are several slightly overly convenient moments, overall the story actually makes some sort of sense.  The various storylines keep it from being to simple or boring and it is markedly different from the authors previous work.  Also...I have just always really loved this yeah...awesome.

Character - Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are by far the most dynamic of characters, with both of them going through legit changes in opinion and belief.  The rest of the characters are a bit one note.  A few of them show some growth or layers, but for the most part any non Elizabeth/Darcy character seems written to illustrate a certain point or characteristic.  The other four sisters embody either a virtue (Jane - beauty and goodness) or a flaw (Lydia wild and reckless).  Mr. Collins is the foolish suck up, Caroline is petty and on and so forth.  The two saving graces of characterization for me is a) the two main characters do go through significant change and b) with the plethora of characters in this book the one noteness is not as apparent as we do not spend an inordinate amount of time with anybody but our main duo. So Ok on Character.

Editing - For as huge (apx 375 pages depending on the edition) as this book is, it flows really well and even the first time through I read it pretty quickly.  This tells me that I did not need to spend time going back and forth or trying to remember who or what was going on.  It also helps that all the story and character threads are being continually tied together to make a tapestry of a book.  Good job.

Love Stories - I love the variety of ways to "fall in love" that are shown in this book. We have "prudent love" in which Charlotte Lucas marries Mr. Collins in a bid to make a comfortable home for herself in a very practical manner.  "Puppy love" in which Lydia throws herself in the arms of Wickham deciding it to be true love in a moment.  Jane and Bingley give us pure and innocent romantic love that just makes us smile.  "Uneven love" in the case of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is a warning against a mismatched pairing.  Of course we have the piece de resistance in Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  This is my kind of love story, they start of with a dislike of each other and both form an opinion on very little information.  Over the course of the book they learn to communicate and accept new information about each other.  The biggest part of this developing relationship is the ability of both parties to admit where they are wrong and grow from it without losing who they are.  I think this is why I love this book so much.

Upper Class - This book is most defiantly about the upper class.  I think the militia and maybe Mr. Collins are the lowest "class" of citizens in this book and none of them are suffering.  The vast majority of the characters have no actual occupation other then some vague business having to do with their estates.  The few who do work are intellectuals or sermon givers, and none of them do any real sort of manual labor.  I guess it could be said that the militia could potentially go to war, but the general feeling was of men at leisure for the most part.  This is all and well and works for the story, but probably leaves a dimension out.

Adaptability - One of my favorite things about this book i the adaptability of it.  I have seen and read a bunch of versions of this story and have loved many of them (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies anybody?).  The movies are hit or miss with of course the BBC version being the best (and also 6 hours long), but I have to admit I'm a bit in love with Bride and Prejudice a Bollywood version of the book that just makes me happy.  I love a story that can be set in many times and places and I am open to any suggestions.

Overall Impression - I think it's pretty clear that I very much love this book.  It is one that goes on my favorites shelf and has such great readability I don't think I will ever get tired of it.  I give it 10 out of 10 pianofortes and recommend it to anybody who wants a solid classic story, characters to fall in love and hate with and a world to become completely immersed.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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