About a week ago my wife and I finished reading Pride & Prejudice together. I was an English major in college so my aversion to this book was not as strong as it might have been otherwise but considering how many members of the opposite sex I've heard swoon over Mr. Darcy I still held my apprehensions. For whatever reason the works of Jane Austen seemed to have mixed together in my mind with the works of all other Victorian Era female authors. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with this era or the female authors of it, but in my mind I had developed a prejudice (ironically enough) against Austen and the Bronte sisters because I believed them to be emotional romanticists. In my mind I believed Pride & Prejudice to be a 19th century version of Twilight and Darcy served as just another Edward Cullen.
Having now read the book I see that I could not have been further from the truth and my prejudices against Austen were very ill informed. The book is a love story, however it is much more than that. There is emotion in the book but again it is much more than that too. Austen depicts a whole gambit of human emotion and personality that is rare if not extinct in the modern romance genre. She is able to to show the importance of loyalty and humility in her characters that far outweighs the mean selfishness of the characters that permeate the pages of so many modern novels.
One of the more illuminating things in the book is Austen's ability to place weight and meaning in the formalities of British high society while at the same time being able to critique the emptiness that is so often present in such formalities. The reader is constantly presented with a nuanced look at the hierarchy of society which places an emphasis on the glory of authenticity and the grotesqueness hypocrisy.
As I read the book I was reluctantly pulled into the ever missing affections of Elizabeth and Darcy and could not help but hope for their union. It is a type of romance novel that places an emphasis on the rightness of a couples match rather than the height of their juvenile emotions for one another.
Having now read the book I cannot recommend it highly enough to you! I really enjoyed it and look forward to now reading Sense & Sensibility too!
Food for thought.