Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen Despite my certainty that I was going to despise this book I pressed ahead and read it with mounting surprise as I realised that I was enjoying it more and more as it went on. It certainly is true that the story itself is the "woes of the regency upper middle class" style novel where the worst that could happen, the highest the stakes get raised, is that the Bennet sisters will find themselves unmarried, and shamed by their youngest sister's brazenness. We are accustomed to think that great books these days, enjoyable stories, have to have high stakes. The fate of the free world depends on xxx, for instance.

What Jane Austin could do, at least in this book, was paint a vivid picture of the lives of the very real main characters. The characters themselves live and breath on the page. I have seen a lot of reviews complaining about the stakes of this book, one I can remember heaps scorn on the main character for being so wound up about problems that those of us without her life of luxery and idleness might find somewhat laughable, particularly in the current economy.

The characters are painted so well however that we are able to understand that although the horrors she faces mean little to us - to many of us the concern shown at the "shame" of Lydia's elopement might seem difficult to understand at fist - but we are able to understand quite clearly just how much it means to Elizabeth and her family. It's this reality within the text that makes it such a pleasure to walk with the main characters and laugh with them at the sheer vapidness of their sisters and counterparts.