Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pride and Prejudice


This post is going to make the rounds. It qualifies as a "Christian" read since this edition was printed by Bethany House. This "insight edition" features notes relevant to everyone, generally speaking, but has a few targeting the Christian crowd specifically. It qualifies as appealing to the young adult crowd--which means I'll be posting it on Becky's Book Reviews. It also qualifies for two challenges I'm participating in: the Something About Me challenge and the Cardathon Challenge.

Why did I choose to read Pride and Prejudice? I love the novel. I haven't always *loved* the novel. There was a long period of my life where I was unfamiliar with this glorious work. I knew I wanted to read it one day. But I didn't have any immediate plans to make it happen. I picked up a copy--I believe it was a Dover edition--a really cheap edition, by the way, for under three bucks. I got to it in December 2005. Years after buying the book. My motivation then? Well, my best friend, Julie, loved the book. And we were discussing the movie. (The most recent movie had just reached theaters and I wanted to go see the movie...but not until I had read the book.) I read it in probably two to four days. I devoured it really. It was just so wonderful. I was graduating with my degree in library science at the time and had some gift cards to spend, so I bought the A&E DVD version with Colin Firth. If I hadn't been convinced of its wonderfulness before, I certainly would've been after seeing the movie! I remember spending the 23rd and 24th of December watching the movie and wrapping presents and feeling all wonderfully giddy. That January, I introduced the movie to my dad. I didn't know if he would like it. It is rather long. It does have a lot of dialogue. But as soon as Mr. Collins came into the scene, Dad was hooked. That summer, June or July 2006, I introduced the movie to my sister. She was skeptical at first. She thought the first hour or so rather boring. But soon she was a fan as well. Then I introduced everyone to Bride and Prejudice. Of course, Julie was the one who first introduced ME to Bride and Prejudice...so I can't take all the credit. So there was much fun and love being spread all around in the family.

But why reread Pride and Prejudice now? Well, I saw it on the Something about Me challenge. It was tempting. But when I saw that Bethany House was releasing a special edition of the book along with their novel Just Jane by Nancy Moser--and that this edition would feature book club type questions--I really couldn't resist it. So I did request a review copy. And it came late last week. As soon as it arrived, I began reading it.

Did I discover anything new the second time around? Well, I don't know about "new" discoveries, but I certainly appreciated it more. I was able to savor it more. I knew what to expect, what was coming. I knew which bits were the "best" parts. I knew the characters. I knew their strengths and weaknesses. I love the language, the style, the romance, the characters. It really is just oh-so-magical.

For those that are unfamiliar, the plot is relatively simple. Jane and Elizabeth are the two oldest sisters in a family of five daughters. It's Regency England. Their family connections aren't the greatest, and it's really imperative that at least one or two of the daughters marry well so that they can be provided for after their father's death. Mrs. Bennet is all about getting her daughters matched up and paired off. And she's a very silly woman. Mr. Bennet is a caring father, who dotes on Elizabeth and merely tolerates the three younger sisters--who rather take after the mother. Jane is a sweet dear. Elizabeth a wit. And the book is about the complicated courtships of the two oldest children. Of course, Lydia, the youngest has her moments as the center of attention. But this isn't her story, thank goodness! Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham and, of course, the unforgettable Mr. Collins play the love interests.

It's a story of love, hate, friendship, family, disdain, disgust, joy, regret, and jealousy. Lots and lots of jealousy. It is a read I recommend to everyone!

What is it about the "Insight Edition" that makes it special? It does feature notes. Mostly cultural notes--not scholarly ones. It likes to comment on the various movie versions of the book. It likes to add in tidbits about Austen's life and time. It points out that Jane is a good "Christian" girl. And it does feature discussion questions. The only thing I am disappointed about in this edition was the fact that I found four typos. One on the very first page. They misspelled first. They even misspelled his on one occasion as "vhis." This is sad, but hopefully it will be corrected with subsequent printings. Typos do happen. But all four could have easily been caught even with spellcheck, and they definitely would have been caught with a human proofreader.