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Pride and Prejudice - Book Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published March 11th 2013
A Jane Austen Classic
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (Austen 1813, 1).

Elizabeth Bennet is the second of five daughters to Mr and Mrs Bennet; a bookish witty man and his frivolous embarrassing wife. Elizabeth herself is intelligent, lively, attractive and fiery but has a tendency to judge on first impression. She lives with her family near the town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London, and is close to her eldest sister Jane, whom is kind-hearted, beautiful and proper. When Mr Bingley, a young, handsome, charismatic and wealthy bachelor moves into Netherfield Park, a grand estate within the neighbourhood of the Bennet family, Mrs Bennet takes it into her mind that one of her girls should marry him.

After a night out at a public ball, it becomes apparent that the favourable Mr Bingley and Elizabeth's sister Jane are forming an attachment to each other, whilst Mr Darcy, Mr Bingley's acquaintance, has made a less favourable first impression by appearing proud and condescending, even slighting Elizabeth. Mr Darcy's name is further tarnished when, after Elizabeth meets the young and charming Mr Wickham, he tells of how he has been very seriously mistreated by Mr Darcy, despite having been 'loved like a son' by the late Mr Darcy. Amplifying her dislike, Mr Bingley leaves Hertfordshire, and Jane, at the advice of Mr Darcy.

But after Elizabeth bluntly and blatantly rejects Mr Darcy's marriage proposition, he leaves her a letter that may explain away all pride and prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was first published in 1813, approximately four years before Austen's death in July, 1817. Pride and Prejudice is arguably Jane Austen's most famed and accomplished novel, and was her second to be published following Sense and Sensibility (1811). Although Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were both published first, it is widely believed that Austen's work Northanger Abbey, published in December, 1817, mere months after Austen's death, was actually her earliest completed work. Pride and Prejudice has great standing even in today's world, with recreations, adaptations and that famous opening line.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist who earned her name in English literature through her works of romantic fiction, set amongst the landed gentry. Austen's works display realism and social commentary that have cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics – her works are 'classics'. Austen herself was part of a large family; she had six brothers and one sister; Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Both Jane and her sister Cassandra were thoroughly educated by their father and brothers and died unmarried.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
The 2005 Hollywood film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in the 2005 Hollywood film adaptation

I enjoy reading classic novels and I enjoy Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice is my favourite. Although Elizabeth Bennet has her flaws, I personally find her to be the most relatable and likeable Austen heroine. She's honest, cynical and strong, and I thoroughly enjoy following her through her story. I feel one with her loyal and fiery nature, and understand her desire to protect her siblings. Elizabeth Bennet is an unwavering force of energy in an otherwise more fragile, but no less likeable, group of Austen heroines. Elizabeth is opinionated and unconventional for her time; a character whom I could only dream of being if I had lived in the early 19th century.

Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen has been the subject of many adaptations for film, television, literature and stage. In the way of film, there was both a 1940 and 2005 adaptation. Many television productions have been made, with the two most noteworthy being by the BBC: a 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and a 1980 version starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. Within the category of literature there are many, including a number of works that are not direct adaptations. Some of the books inspired by Pride and Prejudice include:
• Mr Darcy's Daughters – Elizabeth Aston
• The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy – Elizabeth Aston
• Darcy's Story - Janet Aylmer
• Dialogue with Darcy - Janet Aylmer
• Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued – Emma Tennant
• An Unequal Marriage: Or Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years Later – Emma Tennant

In March 2009, Quirk Books released Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which takes Austen's actual, original work, and mashes it up with zombie hordes, cannibalism, ninjas, and ultra-violent mayhem. Quirk Books then published a prequel which deals with Elizabeth Bennet's early days as a zombie hunter, entitled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (2010), and a sequel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (2011). There have also been many publications telling the 'Pride and Prejudice story' from the view of Mr Darcy himself.

Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen
My personal copy of Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's published novels:
• Sense and Sensibility (1811)
• Pride and Prejudice (1813)
• Mansfield Park (1814)
• Emma (1815)
• Northanger Abbey (1817, posthumous)
• Persuasion (1817, posthumous)
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