Book Review of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Set around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, but making little reference to it, Austen's Pride and Prejudice, as most people know, follows the romance of snooty, unapproachable Darcy and high spirited, generous Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy is proud and Elizabeth is (in my opinion rightly so) prejudiced. Of course, we all know that ultimately Elizabeth and Darcy get it together after Darcy shows his principles and kindness helping Elizabeth's wild and inexperienced sister Lydia form a reasonably satsifactory marriage with Wickham. Wickham a handsome and charming soldier initially makes a favourable impression on Elizabeth, but significantly is a cad who had already disrupted Darcy's own sister's lives.
Austen is in a class of her own for weaving intricate plot beautifully together and portraying character. For example, we love Elizabeth's dad, but we don't really respect him. We agree that Bingley (Darcy's friend) and Elizabeth's sister, Jane will get robbed blind by their staff, as they are just too kind. It is this kind of detail and witty insight that makes her so brilliant. We are appalled by the manners of Mrs Bennet, but delighted by her rudeness. We are astonished by the skill and mastery that Austen applies in writing satire and irony.
Humour and wit abound in Jane Austen's writing and especially in Pride and Prejudice. In my opinion, her understanding of social class and restrictions on women (and men too) is second to none. Direct yet playful; searing yet light; funny yet profound - Pride and Prejudice is a book you will wish to return to time and time again.
Book Discussion Questions on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Which male character in the book do you have most sympathy for and why?
Is Mr Bennet a good father? Why or why not?
In Pride and Prejudice which sister is most like you? Why?
How much sympathy do you have for Lydia and the choices she made?
Are you likely to fall for a 'cad' like Mr Wickham?
Why do you think Pride and Prejudice has been such a popular book for over two hundred years?
There have been lots of movie adaptations and series made of Pride and Prejudice. Who would you cast as the main characters?
Whose marriage will be more successful - Jane and Bingleys or Elizabeth and Darcy's?
How much sympathy do you have for Charlotte Lucas? Was she wise to marry Mr Collins?
Mr Collins is probably the most insufferable character in Pride and Prejudice? Is there anyone who he reminds you of him that you are happy to chat about?
What is the funniest line in the whole book?
The opening line of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most quoted in literature. What other stand out 'first lines' can you think of?
What is the quality that you most admire in Jane Austen's writing?
At the minute books like Jonathan Coe's Middle England are doing the rounds. They are in stark contrast to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as they specifically make reference to current culture and politics. Do you prefer Austen's seemingly timeless writing or would you have welcomed the inclusion of more specific context in Pride and Prejudice?
Bookclub Questions on Pride and Prejudice (If you haven't read the book!)
The letter that Darcy sends Elizabeth angers her hugely. Have you ever received a letter from someone you hated who you then went on to become romantically involved with? If so would you like to share your story?
Darcy is initially judgemental and snobbish, yet ultimately Elizabeth sees his good qualities and falls in love with him. He claims to retain his principles but manages them better with more self-awareness. Do you think we really can change as adults or do we always revert to our young selves?
Elizabeth is from quite a large family of girls, all requiring a husband in order to have financial security. Would you marry for money rather than love?
Elizabeth can dance and play the piano tolerably well, but is probably too lazy to become really skilled at either. Do you share these traits. Is being 'B' grade in life enough?
Pride and Prejudice is set a time of historical signficance yet is almost completely consumed by local and domestic affairs? Does what is happening in the world affect your view of the world, or are you more like the characters in this novel and consumed with your domestic circumstances? Does this matter?
Look around the bookclub. Who is more prone to be proud and who is more likely to be prejudiced? Keep your banter light hearted and don't quarrel!
Summing Up of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The numerous adaptations of Pride and Prejudice make it a well known story and bookub members spend hours drinking wine and discussing which actor playing Darcy they prefer! Lucy Worsley has recently written an insightful account of Austen and her life called Jane Austen at Home. It is well written and a fascinating read if you are interested in knowing biographical information and more about the context of her writing. There are also numerous societies devoted to the study of Jane Austen and plenty of amusing teen and adult spin-off novels too.
If you have never read a Jane Austen book start with this one and there is a good chance that you will become hooked on her writing.