Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

What better way to end a year and bring in another one than re-reading my favorite (tied with Jane Eyre) book of all time by my favorite author! Yes, after meeting my goal of reading 75 books I decided to celebrate by reading Pride & Prejudice yet again. I've lost count of the number of times that I have read this book, but I think this makes 10 re-readings.

For those of you not familiar with this book (and shame on you if you are not!), Pride & Prejudice tells the story of the Bennet family, a well-to-do (but by no means wealthy) family with 5 daughters living in an age when their sole concern was securing an advantageous marriage. The Bennet sisters' world is turned upside down when a Mr. Bingley moves into Netherfield Park and is instantly taken with Jane, the eldest Miss Bennet. It is through Mr. Bingley that Elizabeth, the second eldest, meets Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bingley's very wealthy and prideful friend, and takes a disliking to him. When she learns that Mr. Darcy played a hand in the sufferings of her acquaintance Mr. Wickham and in separating Mr. Bingley from her beloved sister, Elizabeth is determined to dislike him forever. However a series of events, intrigues and misunderstandings soon show that first impressions can be misleading, and Elizabeth soon finds herself desiring a connection with Mr. Darcy that she previously considered most displeasing. Both she and Mr. Darcy must overcome their pride and prejudices in order to find the happiness they both seek.

People always ask me why I re-read this book over and over. There are so many reasons that I could probably write a whole book about how much I love this book, but I will try to keep my admirations in check. First, I love the language. Words and phrases like supercillousness, pedantic, impertubabuly grave, and connubial felicity make my heart and mind sing! Nobody talks like this anymore. We as a society have become so lazy when it comes to language. The fewer letters and syllables we use the better. Words like LOL and OMG now appear in the dictionary! A complete travesty if you ask me. The art of using language (and letter writing) has all but died away. I love that it often takes a character several lines to say one thing rather than a few short words.

Secondly, I love the characters. Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite female literary character and I know that we would be very good friends if she really existed. I love her wit, humor and her ability to put Darcy in his place on numerous occasions. Darcy is my ultimate literary crush. I fell head over heels for him from the first reading. His swoon worthy phrases - "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." - induce sighs in me every time I read them. In my opinion he is perfection personified. Yes he is proud, but he is also generous, loyal and passionate (not to mention rich). If he existed in real life I would not hesitate to snatch him up! Elizabeth and Darcy's love story is amazingly heartwarming and I love watching the events that change their perceptions of each other so drastically unfold.  Even though I know how the story ends, in all of my subsequent re-readings I still find myself so wrapped up in the world created by Austen that I worry over whether or not Elizabeth and Darcy will really end up together.

Jane Austen writes with a fluidity and ease that can sometimes be missing in classics. The story is full of humor, friendship, gossip, and romance. She is by far my favorite author and I have read just about everything of hers that has been published. While I have many Austen favorites - Sense and Sensibility,  Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion - Pride & Prejudice is by far her crowning glory. I don't ever seem to be able to get my fill of it - both literary and even film wise. If you have never read this book, I implore you to pick it up. It is a book that I will continue to love, cherish, and probably re-read a million more times.

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