Romances are not my genre of choice, but I truly enjoyed Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The writing, while clearly in typical nineteenth-century style, was not bogged down with description like many books of that era–or even some romance novels of today. I found the characters engaging and especially enjoyed the sassy protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth and her four sisters are anxiously looking for advantageous marriages to prevent the poverty they face at their father’s death. Having no male heirs, the family estate will be inherited by a distant cousin.
The story revolves around the complications of the Bennet household that includes a detached dad, a mother with the sensibilities of a fifteen-year-old, and five young women engaged in a myriad of flirtations and romantic entanglements. Elizabeth is the most intelligent of the daughters and more adverse to an unhappy marriage than a reduced station in life, proven by her refusal to marry the cousin in question.
Elizabeth meets Mr. Darby, the close friend of her sister, Jane’s, beau, and immediately finds him detestable. She is appalled when he also requests her hand in marriage and, in no uncertain terms, tells him exactly how she feels about him. Not your usual demure ingenue. By the next morning, however, she makes discoveries that shake her formidable self-confidence to the core. A tumble of events follows that kept me glued to the book until the last word.
The story takes place amid the conventions and hierarchy of the nineteenth-century English gentry which fascinated, yet confused me. Published in 1812, Austen assumes these practices and class distinctions are common knowledge, but to me, they are quite foreign.
However, due to the author’s delightful writing style, colorful characters, and intriguing setting, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan to add Sense and Sensibility to my reading list. So include me on the long list of Jane Austen fans. I am now a “Janeite.”