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It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged…

...that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.  Megan reads Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for the first time, ever, as the literally classic gets the official FYA book report treatment.

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged…

BOOK REPORT for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Cover Story: Too Many To Judge
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: So Dense, But So Funny
Bonus Factors: Regency Era England, Embarassing Family
Relationship Status: About Damn Time

Cover Story: Too Many To Judge

At nearly 200 years old, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different editions of this novel. So their covers run a wide spectrum from those that make you lose your faith in humanity, to those that you’d be proud to display on your bookshelves. There is pretty much something for everyone. The cover I displayed here is the 1894 edition illustrated by Hugh Thomson (also known as the “Peacock Edition”), which seems to be both a collector and fan favorite.

The Deal:

Note: As the only member of Team FYA (and perhaps the only female on planet earth) who has never read Pride and Prejudice or seen any of its movie adaptations, I was given the honor of reading it for the first time and reviewing it for the site.  Which means this review will based on the book only.  And there may be spoilers, because I assume everyone knows the general plot by this point.

Mrs. Bennet, an unrepentant narcissist and social climber, has five eligible and single daughters she would like nothing more than to marry off.  Which, in fairness, is actually somewhat necessary since the Bennet’s estate cannot be inherited by women and is entailed (or as I refer to it: The Cousin Matthew Effect) to a distant relation named Mr. Collins.  Once Mr. Bennet dies, the girls will lose their estate and have very little to live off of.  So Mrs. Bennet would prefer many nice, rich son-in-laws whom she can visit and mooch from.  These plans are especially exasperating to her husband Mr. Bennet, who is pretty much like that hilarious and completely lovable asshole uncle you have who shit-talks people in the corner with you during a family reunion.  Also frustrated are her two worthwhile oldest daughters, the too sweet for her own good Jane and the awesomeness personified Elizabeth (Lizzy).  The other three daughters, in order, are sad Mary, Kitty (who is barely a real person) and Lydia, who is a monster.

So it’s just Mrs. Bennet’s luck that a young, rich, eligible man named Mr. Bingley has moved into the area.  And fortunately, the beautiful Jane seems to be hitting it off with him.  Less fortunate is Lizzy, who is stuck having to spend time with Bingley’s bestie, the generally rude and arrogant Mr. Darcy.  Not even his handsomeness and 10,000 pounds a year can make him tolerable.  Just when an engagement between Jane and Bingley seems likely, Bingley’s nasty sister and Mr. Darcy spirit him back to London.  Mr. Collins, distant cousin, all around ridiculous human, and man of God, tries to get Lizzy to marry him and fails.  Also, Lizzy makes acquaintance with Mr. Wickham, officer, charmer, gambler and sociopath who tells her lies about Darcy and his inheritance. 

Later, Lizzy visits Mr. Collins and her friend Charlotte and spends more time with Mr. Darcy.  Darcy proposes to her and she turns him down, citing his trying to keep Bingley and Jane apart (true, though not for the reason she suspects) and disinheriting Wickham (false).  Darcy gives Lizzy a letter explaining the truth, including how Wickham tried to elope with Darcy’s young sister, and Lizzy promptly feels like a bit of an asshole.

But then...stuff happens!  Including terrible, terrible Lydia running away to elope with Wickham, who has NO desire to marry her, until Darcy pays him off.  And finally Jane and Bingley get together.  And finally Lizzy and Darcy finally get their shit together as well.  And everyone ends up happily ever after!  Except probably for Lydia.

The TL;DR Version:  Some people meet, make bad first impressions, then start to like each other, but their pride and prejudices get in the way, and things are bad, but then they work it out, get married and live happily ever after.

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition

My love for Lizzy Bennet is something fierce.  So much in fact, that I emailed Alix and enlisted her to create a platinum, diamond encrusted BFF charm especially for Lizzy (also known as the Ryan Lochte BFF charm).  Lizzy is smart and awesome and funny and everyone should want to be her.  So awesome that even the prideful Mr. Darcy is willing to ignore the fact that she’s poor and has a crazy family and still want to marry her because no one else is that cool.  It’s fitting that she’s her horrible mother’s least favorite and her awesome dad’s favorite.  Her major fault is that sometimes she’s too quick to judge and often sees the bad in people over the good.  But in her defense, she is usually right.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Now before you go ALL CAPSLOCK on me for giving this anything less than a ten, hear me out!  I think it’s hard for people who love the mini-series to keep from conflating the book and the film.  Whenever I talk to anyone about Mr. Darcy, they immediately think Colin Firth.  But I’m focusing solely on what’s within the original text here.  And due to the time period this was written, everything in the book is so restrained and subtle, at least compared to what I’m typically used to in a romance.  The fact that there are so many smutty retellings tells me that I can’t be the only person who feels this way.  Anyway, I really dug the love/hate relationship between Lizzy and Darcy.  Usually that concept seems so contrived and played out, but obviously this is one of the earliest/best examples of that trope.  But while I don’t get any explicit make outs, I do get some lovely lines that are to die for, like this from Darcy to Lizzy:

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

Talky Talk: So Dense, But So Funny

This was not an easy read for someone like me, who hardly ever reads difficult books and never reads anything this old.  So Austen’s style was not easy for me to get into and there would be some paragraphs I’d finish and think wait, I have no idea what I just read.  Plus, certain portions of the book could be a slog to get through.  But I am so glad that I did.  Because Austen’s writing is also so funny.  There are the hilarious characters (like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, though hilarious for different reasons) and the witty characters (like Lizzy and Darcy).  It wasn’t particularly unusual for a line or two to make me laugh out loud.  There are plenty of great quotes, and here are just a few:

"Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends -- whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain."  
- Darcy

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."
- Mr. Bennet

"Nobody can tell what I suffer! -- But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied."
- Mrs. Bennet

Bonus Factor: Regency Era England

Jane Austen is super tricky, because she has the ability to make rational ladies like me think living in Regency Era England would be super, duper awesome.  Like, I’m totally willing to overlook things like women having zero rights, lack of indoor plumbing, and that I would most likely have died very young from one of many now curable diseases.  Instead, I find myself thinking of all the beautiful dresses I’d wear to the balls I’d be attending.  And how I would never have to work and I’d have servants to cook, clean and dress me.  And maybe I’d meet a handsome young man with 10,000 pounds a year.  This is all assuming I would be lucky enough to be born one of the landed gentry.

Bonus Factor: Embarassing Family

Holy crap, the Bennets' are embarrassing.  But what’s best about that is how utterly real it all feels.  I’m so used to the Michael Scott school of awkward comedy that takes things too far and makes situations too unbelievable.  Austen’s portrayal of the Bennet family is so true to life that I could find myself truly empathizing with some of the situations.

Casting Call:

This will most likely be the contentious part of my review because people have Some Serious Feelings about who is allowed to play their beloved characters.  Again, I have held off on watching any of the film adaptations until after writing this review so that I would not be influenced in my choices.  Some of you will say the perfect film adaptation was already made and cast.  And while that may be true, what’s the fun in having an FYA Book Report without a Casting Call section?

Carey Mulligan as Elizabeth Bennet

From what I understand, Carey was already in a Pride & Prejudice film (that one which I shall simply refer to as the Keira Knightly version) but as Kitty.  But now she’s older and is one of the few actresses who comes to mind when I think of Elizabeth.  Especially because Carey is beautiful in a way that isn’t completely in your face, but a way that grows on you.

Natalie Dormer as Jane Bennet

I’m only familiar with Natalie through Game of Thrones, but she’s super gorgeous in a soft way that I could see really working as Jane.

Felicity Jones as Lydia Bennet

Felicity is my age but manages to still look passable as a teenager.  She’s bright and cute and maybe if she played Lydia, I wouldn’t want to slap Lydia in the face?

Eddie Redmayne as Charles Bingley

Maybe if we cast Eddie they will make a musical version of Pride and Prejudice, eh?

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as George Wickham

The character of Wickham is totes a sociopath.  So I can’t just cast someone attractive and charming.  I have to cast someone attractive and charming who kind of freaks me out.

And now the casting you all have been waiting for.  There has been some serious contention within FYA HQ on the choice of Mr. Darcy.  So much in fact, that our top two choices have been left to duke it out.

Matthew Goode VS. Tom Hiddleston as Fitzwilliam Darcy

Now, I’m on Team Hiddleston, after my friend Rachel and I both thought of him independently of each other.  Have you watched an interview with him before?  He’s just so charming.  Alix and Posh are both firmly on Team Goode.  They lose points in my book because they started promoting him only after watching Chasing Liberty.  But they regained points after Alix sent me a very persuasive email which included a picture of Matthew Goode in a bubble bath.  But this isn't just about who is more beautiful, it's about who would make the best Darcy.  So I ask you readers to tell me what you think.  Hiddleston, Goode or someone else entirely?

Relationship Status: About Damn Time

I am getting up in age, nearly 30, quite the old maid!  My family was worried that they would never be able to marry me off and that I would have to become a governess.  But then I met this book and while I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first, but I got past its loquaciousness and finally saw this book for who it was.  I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun...if you know what I mean.  I loved this book and was finally feeling what everyone else had always been talking about.  And now this book and I will live happily ever after, on our beautiful estate, with 10,000 pounds a year.

Pride and Prejudice is available, umm ya know, everywhere. But it also falls under the public domain, which means you can find many free versions.

 

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Megan Crane's photo About the Author: Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.