This is only the second time I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I’m grateful to say that I enjoyed the book so much better than on the first. The story of a landed gentry family from Hertfordshire who is trying to marry off their five daughters and raise their social status. Social and political pitfalls ensue.
One of the things I enjoy about plot is that Ms. Austen adroitly captures the complicated relationship between parents and their adult children. The oldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, are in their twenties. As such, they are very aware of their families oddities and social faux pas that have become part of their family’s identity. They also are very aware of the ways in which their parents have failed to raise and correct their younger sisters. But what can they do? You can only suggest and interfere so much. And while they are sometimes embarrassed by their family’s behavior, they still clearly love their parents and younger sisters.
Ms. Austen presents a somewhat realistic view of the complications of finding and developing love. The first half of the novel is a bit of a slog, for me at least. It seems like we are shown event after event where the reader cringes because of the Bennett family social awkwardness. But once Elizabeth gets to Kent to visit her friend Charlotte, everything seems to fall into place and we become aware of how the early information is coming to play and what the “point” of the novel.
There’s no “bad” guy in this novel, except Mr. Wickham. And he’s just a cad and gets his just desserts. What I appreciate, as a male reader, is that there’s no romanticization of men and love. No white knight coming to rescue Elizabeth. Instead, Ms. Austen reveals to her readers that true love exists when a couple is able to process and look past the imperfections in the other. To be truly in love is to be aware of your faults and work together with your beloved to each becoming a better person.
I highly recommend this read, whether you like books about love or enjoy humorous and witty repartee. I hope you give Pride & Prejudice a chance or a reread.