A review of
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
by Jane Austen
This edition published in 2013 by Pulp! the Classics.
On our first day of class, in a lecture hall crowded with 70+ MA Publishing students, we played a little ice breaker. The ice breaker was simple enough. 70+ book nerds were asked the question “What are your favorite books?” and then left to discuss amongst themselves.
The answers were far less interesting than you would think. Some people had really unique answers, like romances/erotic fiction, or comic books, but for the most part people named specific books, and almost always someone would say “so-and-so likes Jane Austen”. I hadn’t read Pride & Prejudice at the time, but I’d attempted to and frankly I’d found it really boring. I also found it completely unbelievable that over 50% of people with diverse backgrounds and reading habits would all name Jane Austen. I thought (and still think) it was a bit of a cop out.
Now, almost three years later, I can finally say that I’ve read Pride & Prejudice. The verdict? Yes, it was good. Has it become one of my all-time favorite books? That would be a definitive no.
Most people are familiar with the premise of Pride & Prejudice, so I won’t go into the details. But it’s basically a romantic-comedy set in early 19th century England. It’s full of a batch of boy-crazy girls, all looking for love, or at least a marriage with a rich man. There are wider themes, but this is the general plot.
I thought the first half of the book was really boring and, had the second half continued on the same way, I would not see any of the appeal of this book. The first half is mainly boring conversations in parlours and sitting rooms. And I get it, the conversation is supposed to be “zingy” or something. It’s building relationships and setting the scene. It’s a commentary on early 19th century society. Whatever. It was okay. I kept reading because it was the only e-book on my phone and the only easy means to read on the subway in the morning (where I don’t get internet or phone service and often have to stand squished against a bunch of other commuters). What annoyed me most about the beginning of the book was that sometimes Austen just doesn’t bother describing scenes. She just tells you what happened. I found it very tedious.
The second half is where things start to get juicy, and I’m glad that my limited reading options allowed me to finally finish the book. There are a couple of marriages, some confessions of love, a couple of jiltings. And I think that Austen’s straightforward prose is better served in these scenes, especially the dialogue, which does come off as snappy and fast-paced.
Overall, I think the book was entertaining, though its literary significance has taken away any surprise one might experience from its pages. While the book will maintain a place on my bookshelf (both physical and digital), I don’t think I’ll be telling anyone that it’s one of my favorite books. At least not any time soon.
But at least I got a really awesome edition from Pulp Classics to stare at.
*cue onslaught of objections/comments*