I saved Pride and Prejudice for last since I’ve read it the most times and seen both the BBC and the new movie many times over (I like both in different ways).
I think that this is probably the most popular of the books because of Elizabeth. She is not a perfect person, but has so many amiable qualities (as Jane would say), that one can not help but admire her. When she stands up to the Bingley sisters and Lady Catherine, you just want to cheer! How many of us have wanted to speak so well and so cleverly in the middle of being criticized and berated?
To me, Darcy is not quite the romantic hero as much as Mr. Knightly but I think it is a matter of maturity. His being rejected by Elizabeth takes him down a peg and helps him grow in a way that he can capitalize on his great qualities (loyalty, generosity) and work on those less great qualities (pride, duh!)
I think too that everyone loves the book where the two main characters fight and fight but end up together in the end. It makes for a good romance, seeing the opposites come together.
In this read through, I noticed how Mary tends to be the most insightful and least listened to character in the book. How much Mr. Bennet is at fault for Lydia’s character as much as Mrs. Bennet. I also paid more notice to the conclusion, where we see pretty much a happy ending for everyone–Lydia and Wickham get to live their degenerate selfish lifestyle unapologetically (neither character grows in this book), Jane and Bingley are blissfully in love, Darcy and Elizabeth the same, Kitty benefits from being more under her eldest sister’s influence, and Mary finally gets some attention once all her prettier sisters are out of the house (poor Mary!).
I think this book might have the wittiest dialogue and the most unconventional (at the time) female lead, which is perhaps why it has captured so many hearts!
This is the last in a series; you can read about the others here:
After reading through all of these books, I’ve concluded that it isn’t fair to rank them best to worst, but to instead view them as different flavors.
Mansfield Park – the anti-Austen book, flipping the other stories on their heads with the timid Fanny Price
Emma – the family comedy
Sense and Sensibility – a story about the virtues of being self-controlled, emphasis on the sister relationship. Sort of an all-encompassing book that includes a few elements of each of her later books
Pride and Prejudice – the strongest female lead
Persuasion – the best romance
Northanger Abbey – the most fun and most suitable for a younger reader (highly recommend for teen girls!)
So what are your thoughts on Pride and Prejudice? Which of Austen’s books is your favorite?