BooksOfTheMoon

Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

Rating: 5 stars

I first encountered Pride and Prejudice back in the mid-90s when the BBC produced a mini-series dramatisation that I really enjoyed. I immediately looked up the big fat volume of Austen sitting in my parents’ bookcase, devoured P&P (closely followed by the other novels) and fell in love with Eliza Bennet. Austen herself described Elizabeth Bennet: “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print”. I certainly can’t argue with that. I loved this book then, and I loved it again now, after my umpteenth reread of it since then.

Back then it was the sheer feistiness of Elizabeth and the overcoming of all the odds to beat pride and, indeed, prejudice and find love that moved me. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the marvellous writing but also the social mores of the day and if not sympathise with Lady Catherine’s view of the match between Eliza and Darcy, then at least understand it. In other contexts, such arguments as she makes to Elizabeth towards the end of the book are still made today.

Not only the protagonist, but all the cast of the book are lovingly drawn and so memorable. From the sublime – Jane and Bingley – to the ridiculous – Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins, every character springs to life in front of us.

Goodbye for now Lizzy, I’ll see you in a year or two.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140434262
Publisher: Penguin
Year of publication: 1813

Persuasion

By Jane Austen

Rating: 4 stars

I read this book as a teenager, but couldn’t remember anything about it when I came to read it again for the first time in 15+ years. I did remember very much enjoying it, as a story of lovers finding each other following adversity. I’ve been meaning to re-read it for years, and finally got around to it now, although I did have to force myself to go slightly further down the shelf from Pride and Prejudice to get to this.

This time round, as well as still enjoying that aspect of the novel, I appreciated the satire on vanity and pretension as much as the romance, although it’s still a heart-warming love story as well. Eight years ago, Anne Elliot was persuaded by her family and close family friend to give up her engagement to the man she loved, because he wasn’t rich or well enough connected for them. Now he has come back into her life and throws it into turmoil again.

While Anne is no Elizabeth Bennett, she is a likeable protagonist, and contrasts very neatly with her vainglorious father and sister. Anne fits neatly into the mould of the good woman of the era, being quiet, modest and competent.

Although I still enjoyed Austen’s writing enormously, this book does seem to have an awful lot of very long run-on sentences, which sometimes meant that I lost track half way through, especially if a little tired.

Persuasion is a lovely little book, and probably my second-favourite Jane Austen novel, but it’s not going to be replacing Pride and Prejudice in my affections any time soon.

Book details

ISBN: 9780141028118
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Year of publication: 1818

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