Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen


If you're looking for a free and well-read audiobook of this novel I'd definitely recommend this one from LibriVox. The reader, Karen Savage, does an excellent English accent, doesn't read too fast or two slow and manages to give each of the characters a slightly different voice so as to avoid confusion when listening. 

My aim for 2011 was to read Pride and Prejudice, as I felt like I'd failed as a woman and an English Literature student since I hadn't read Jane Austen's most famous novel by now. While I read Northanger Abbey in my first year of university, it isn't exactly representative of her typical work. But it came to September and I hadn't yet read P&P as I'd planned, so I started reading on my Kindle. Sadly, this didn't get very far as I had a lot of work to do for university in September and I completely forgot that I'd been reading P&P. Eventually, in November, I checked out LibriVox.org and found an audiobook that sounded nice and downloaded it to my Blackberry, determined to listen to the entirety of the book before the end of 2011. 

I'd enjoyed Northanger Abbey back when I read it in February 2010, but that was it; I didn't love it. Since I'm a fan of romance novels I feel like I should adore Austen, but I don't. But there's nothing wrong with simply enjoying listening to a nice, easy story while you do the ironing or wash dishes, is there? I know that most of my romance-reading or even just classic-reading friends on GoodReads have loved this book and given it five-stars, but I'm afraid P&P is getting a solid but slightly lower 8 out of 10 from me. 

One of the things I enjoyed about NA was the witty dialogue and banter between the characters, and I was not disappointed in this when I started P&P, particularly with the hilarity of all the things that Mrs Bennett and Caroline Bingley came out with. That said, nothing really seemed to happen in the first twenty chapters of the novel and I found myself thinking that if I'd been reading the book and not listening to it then I might have put the book down and moved on to something else. As it was, I kept listening and around a third of the way into the book it began to pick up, particularly as Elizabeth and Mr Darcy actually interacted with each other during this part of the story! For a book that is generally regarded as a "classic romance" there was surprisingly little interaction between the hero and heroine, and while Darcy later proved himself to be a rather admirable gentleman, Elizabeth was rather passive, except on the few occasions when she became quite judgemental. I found that the book got far more interesting when Lydia ran off. As immature and flighty as Lydia is, she seemed to have a bit more personality than Elizabeth, dare I say it? I just wish I'd got inside Elizabeth's head more, as there were a few times when she really showed her personality around the middle of the story and then again at the conclusion of the novel, but to begin with she was too passive for my liking. 

All in all, I was satisfied with the ending of the novel and enjoyed the direction that it took after Lydia's escapades. There isn't a distinct plot structure in this book, so perhaps this explains my difficulty with it and why I was slightly uninterested to begin with. This has in no way become one of my favourite classics but it did provide entertainment and after the initial slow start I truly came to enjoy it. I have to read Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion next semester for English so I'm looking forward to seeing how those compare. I've not become a die-hard Janeite, nor am I pining for my own Darcy (my Simon will do just fine, thank you very much) but I'll admit that Jane Austen does write an engaging story and provides entertaining insight into the lives of the early nineteenth century nobility and privileged classes.

Pride and Prejudice was my Challenge Book for 2011. Did you challenge yourself to read a certain novel in 2011? Did you succeed? I still need to decide what to challenge myself to read in 2012...

1 comment:

  1. Interesting.... I never noticed how Elisabeth did not have much of a personality when I first read it. But now that I think about it yes you're right. She didn't.

    But I have to admit I do wish for my own Darcy... But I like the silent mysterious men. :P I am a die hard Janeite. I've only read P&P and Sense and Sensibility. But I hope to read more in the future.

    I'm actually reading a book about Jane Austen. The author took Jane Austen and made her a character in a series. It's interesting.