I’m fairly certain you know what Pride & Prejudice is about but just in case…
The estate of Netherfield has been rented to a rich, eligible bachelor which is like waving a green flag in front of every mother with unmarried daughters in the 1800s. This includes Mrs Bennet, a woman with the unfortunate job of getting her five daughters settled. I had much more sympathy for her during this reading. After all, if she doesn’t get the girls married before the death of their father, they’ll be living in a van down by the river. That’s a lot of pressure. Of course Mrs Bennet flings her prettiest daughter, Jane, at the new tenant, Mr Bingley. Mr Bingley is a happy-go-lucky dude whose entourage includes his bitchy sister, Caroline, and his snooty bff, Mr Darcy. While Mr Bingley is willing to be entertained and pleased by anything, Caroline and Mr Darcy are too cool for school.
During a ball, Darcy insults Jane’s sister, Elizabeth, the less pretty but smart and sarcastic sister. He injures her pride and though she laughs it off, she tries to do all she can to get on his last nerve. What she doesn’t realize is that he kind of likes that.
I forgot how funny Pride and Prejudice is! Mrs Bennet with her “flutterings” and Mr Bennet’s dry musings. Here are some the thoughts I had.
Mr & Mrs Bennet: Yes, Mrs Bennet is ridiculous and pushy and embarrassing but Mr Bennet is so mean to her. I kept wondering why he married her. Late in the story, it is revealed that Mrs B was quite pretty and he rushed to marry her. Later he regrets it. Still, he doesn’t need to be so nasty. (However, it underlines that appearances can be deceiving and there’s something for finding out a person’s character before marriage.)
Mr Collins: So much creepier than I remembered! Poor Charlotte. He makes for hilarious times though. When Lydia has her incident, he writes a carefully worded letter full of helpful advice. He regrets that Lydia didn’t die instead. He’s a real charmer.
Mr Bingley: What a wishy-washy guy. He changes his opinions depending on who is talking. The only time he raises his voice is one time after Caroline’s nastiness gets on his nerves.
Caroline Bingley: The Regina George of Pride and Prejudice. I can just hear her telling her friend Louisa Hurst that “fetch is never going to happen.” The letters she writes Jane are cringe-worthy. Jane takes them as a friendly warning. Elizabeth is much savvier. Sister, please, that girl is a bitch.
Elizabeth Bennet & the Awkward Conversation: Lizzie has a lot of awkward conversations. She gives away personal information to people (guys actually) rather easily. Then there is a conversation with Colonel Fitzwilliam where he pretty much tells her he’s looking for a girl with money. Plus, knowing what I knew and she didn’t about Darcy and Wickham, the whole thing was hard to read. Awkward!
The Entire Bennet Clan: Bonkers. Lizzie has a face-palm moment at Mr Bingley’s ball when her sisters act boy crazy, Mrs Bennet loudly proclaims Jane practically married, and Mary & Mr B make a spectacle of themselves at the piano. Then there’s the whole Lydia Incident. What a crew!
I was glad to re-read Pride and Prejudice with my book club. I don’t know if I would have otherwise and it was the pick-me-up I needed. Very funny and well written, it doesn’t compare to anything I’ve read in a long time.
About the Audio: This version of Pride and Prejudice was a Librivox recording by Karen Savage. What an excellent narrator she is! Her inflections are lovely and her interpretation of Mr Collins and Mrs Bennet are just what I imagined. I would definitely listen to more of her work.