Love Affair with a Novel, Or, I HEART PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Words like “affable,” “particular,” “handsome,” and “tolerable” have spiked in usage in my internal monologue in the last few days, and in my speech and writing. I guess that’s what happens when I read Pride & Prejudice. Thanks, Jane Austen.

This was my fourth reading, and it was even more delicious this go round, possibly because I took my time. I was absolutely enchanted by Austen’s writing yet again. I paid particular attention to the information we are given about what is going on with Mr. Darcy and in his head; I had not noticed before how carefully but subtly Austen provides us with all the information we need to know that Mr. Darcy is (at least) a much better man than Elizabeth thinks he is. We are rooting for him way before Elizabeth falls in love, so when she finally does, we are terribly relieved. It is quite satisfying. [I might have squealed multiple times in the nail salon reading the last 50 pages. I think my mother would have been embarrassed. Had that happened. Hypothetically, of course.]

This is the book I want to have read the most times when I die.* It’s not that Mr. Darcy is the cat’s pajamas – I actually far prefer Mr. Knightley of the Austen heroes. It’s not that I closely identify with Elizabeth – I like her an awful lot, but I don’t see that much of me in her. It’s the writing. The writing is GLORIOUS. I truly think that Austen is at her best here, which is really saying something, because she was freaking brilliant.  Emma is lovely and witty and fun, but not overly so; Sense & Sensibility is desperately moving; Mansfield Park is like a guitar perfectly-tuned for a certain piece – it plays its song exceedingly well, producing the best of all possible Mansfield Parks; Northanger Abbey is devilishly clever and uproariously funny if you know anything about Gothic literature; Persuasion is quietly profound and has a depth that comes only with maturity. But the narrative style of Pride and Prejudice is peerless. In beauty, wit, and heart, P & P is simply the best.

In celebration of the awesomeness of my favorite novel of all time, I am going to be posting some of my favorite passages from it at random for the next few months. And, if the Bank of England really does put Austen on the 10-pound note 2017, you just know I’m going to England to get one. (Well, that will be my excuse, anyway.)

Also, I must say that I think Austen’s use of the dash has got to be at least as interesting as Emily Dickinson’s, even though that has nothing to do with the rest of this post.

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*Okay, that’s not technically true; I want to have read the entire Bible many more times than Pride and Prejudice. But I feel like the Bible is in a separate category from other books – you know, the whole dual-authorship, and one of those authors being God, of every book kind of sets apart.

And, to be practical,  the book I will probably have read the most is The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Each Peach Pear Plum or The Runaway Bunny or something.

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