Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen (1813) – A Female Fiction From A Male Point Of View Review

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And here we have the original blueprint for many a chick lit novel. Girl meets man, girl doesn’t like man, girl is not sure if man likes her, man makes his attentions known and is rebuffed, girl decides she does like man after all and has to wait for the catalyst which brings girl and man together. Along the way, family and friends both help and hinder the eventual outcome. Sounds simple, yet when carried out with the subtlety, wit and craftsmanship of Jane Austen the whole thing reaches another level.

I re-read this to see if it was my favourite Austen novel. It isn’t. That is still “Emma” (I think although I may have to re-read this soon to confirm this). There the vivacity and machinations of the main character raise it up to a slightly higher plain. I am also a great fan of the “Gothic” influenced “Northanger Abbey”, her first novel (but only published posthumously) one of the greatest expositions on the power of books (especially on an impressionable mind). I recently had another go at “Mansfield Park”, which I felt like I virtually knew off by heart when I was at college, where I read it of necessity and found it all rather solid and indigestible. I did think age and experience would mellow my opinion but it still lacks the sparkle of her best. I think it’s because of Fanny Price, probably literature’s most passive character and the less than captivating love interest, Edward. “Persuasion” and “Sense And Sensibility” were read too long ago for me to carry out any comparison but I think they might not challenge the big three of which “Pride & Prejudice” is one.

It’s hard not to recall the BBC series when reading this and picturing Colin Firth as Darcy (I know quite a few of my readers would like to now picture Colin Firth) and Alison Steadman superb as the silly Mrs Bennet but I did feel that the Darcy in the novel does not have quite the presence that later visual interpretations have given him. (Controversial point) but Mrs Bennet is just as silly, daughter Elizabeth just as likeable and the sense of propriety just as important.

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This novel probably has the greatest range of memorable characters, the pompous Mr Collins, who first makes a play for Elizabeth; her too laid-back father; the scheming Miss Bingley; the other sisters, especially the too ready to grow up youngest, Lydia and the pretty ghastly Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Unlike the best of Dickens or the Brontes, I do not find myself hanging onto every word of the novel and my concentration does have the tendency to dip in and out, but when it’s good it is very good indeed. From Lydia’s disappearance onwards it does become more consistently engaging.  For me this is a book I am very happy to have sitting on my shelves, until the next time I decide to give it another go, but it just misses out on being an all-time favourite.

fourstars

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6 thoughts on “Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen (1813) – A Female Fiction From A Male Point Of View Review

  1. Where’s the Darcy pic?!? I love P&P best of all the novels (as I think you know!) but in truth it’s for Lizzie’s character rather than Darcy’s. But though it’s the most enjoyable, for me the ‘best’ one is Sense & Sensibility, because I find it so insightful on the social rankings of the day, and the marriages of Marianne and Eleanor seem more likely than the more fairytale aspects of Jane and Lizzie’s marriages. I also love Mansfield Park, oddly for the character of poor little Fanny – again I find the position she is in entirely believable and her passivity probably truer than Lizzie’s courage. Still love Lizzie best though… (and Darcy!)

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  2. Ha Ha! I came over all mean when I was selecting a picture and faced with a whole screen of Colin Firths I went for Alison Steadman. I’m sure there couldn’t have been a picture of the said Mr Darcy that you haven’t seen! Anyway, too much of anything is not good for you (yes, excepting chocolate!) I will put “Sense And Sensibility” onto my to be read list, as I read it so long ago I can’t remember anything at all about it. I think I’ve had my fill of poor little Fanny – oops, I’ve just read that back, but you know what I mean. I spent too many college tutorials sniggering over that – you’d think I’d have grown up a bit by now……………………

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  3. Phil, please. You cannot have too much of Colin Firth. Trust me. It’s been so very many years since I read these novels because it was our English teacher who was a devotee of Austen and the Brontes. I’m afraid they bored me. However, I do still have every single one and may in time get around to reading them again. If only because of the vision of Mr D’Arcy.

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    • I do think you need to keep Colin Firth in your head when reading it then, because I’m not sure that the Colin- Firthness of it all comes across in Jane Austen’s Darcy. I do think you need to be of a certain age to appreciate Jane Austen – I’m not totally convinced I’m that age but I think if read too young the subtleties are difficult to appreciate and it can just seem, as you said it, boring. I felt that of Mansfield Park which I read as a teenager, but discovered it still didn’t exactly set me alight when I read it a little while back. I think the Brontes are another matter. I loved “Wuthering Heights” as a teenager and I still do and the same applies for “Jane Eyre”

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  4. Pingback: The Author Strikes Back – Vaughn Entwistle – reviewsrevues

  5. Pingback: Being Elizabeth Bennet – Emma Campbell Webster (2007) – A Female Fiction From A Male Point Of View Review – reviewsrevues

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