I have absolutely no idea how to review this book. Instead, I’ll tell you the story of my relationship with it.
In my sophomore year of high school we read Austen for the first time. I clearly remember our teacher (looking back he was young, with long hair) stalking around the room selling us on an author only some of us had heard of, and attempting to inspire in us the mental fortitude it takes a 15 or 16 year old to really battle with language 185 years old.
But I don’t remember with certainty which Austen it was. I *think* it was P&P but it could have just as easily been S&S as we read both with that teacher. Either way, I was hooked. It took some time to get comfortable with Austen’s style of prose (she uses very long sentences) and her setting (I hadn’t yet fully become the history nerd I am now) but once I sunk in it’s a relationship that has been strong and true for over 20 years.
The characters in P&P are what have always stuck with me. Each different version I take on, whether it’s the original, film and TV adaptations, or other books building on Austen’s world, there is still some character (or two) that pulls me in. I’m always surprised with which one stands to the forefront in each revisit, it isn’t usually the same one. The 2005 movie is all Darcy to me – I am with Matthew Macfayden in Darcy’s interior life as someone afraid of hurt and feeling trapped by honor and duty but intrigued by what is before him. The BBC miniseries is Elizabeth – feisty but not a firecracker, a person in possession of herself if not always her best mind. In past reads of the book I’ve ping ponged between the two, but often found myself mentally sitting with Mr. Bennet in his office watching the world go by and his family spin around him.
On my first ever solo trip out of the country I visited England after my junior year of high school (don’t worry overmuch, I was meeting a group), and purchased for myself a full set of Austen’s work as my souvenir. I’m sad to say not all of those books are with me any longer, including this one. But it still holds a very special place in my heart and I’m glad to revisit it time and again.
Bingo Square: Back to School