Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — book review

Untitled drawing (1)It isn’t surprising that Pride and Prejudice has become such a classic, one that inspired thousands of adaptations and re-tellings. Many of the story’s components have become conventions…and to dismiss this novel as a ‘girl’s book’ is not only incredibly superficial but it negates Jane Austen’s clever social commentary.
While many of its characters are satirical personifications of certain types of people (the solipsistic and frivolous mother, the disinterested father, the silly sister(s), the intellectual one, and so on) it does so in a compelling way that makes them all the more vivid in the reader’s mind. Austen’s witty narrative might not appeal to all readers but it is undeniable that her story presents us with sharp-witted portraits.
In spite of her ‘prejudices’ Liz was an admirable heroine whose loyalty to her family, and in particular to her sister Jane, made her all the more likeable. Her ‘romance’ with Darcy is but one of the many strands of this rich story that deals with class and gender. What happens between the characters is conveyed in a subtle manner, through carefully selected words…yet the narrative is always buzzing with a vibrant energy.
An entertaining read that definitely lived up to its fame.

My rating: ★★★✰✰ 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4)

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld : book review

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Over the course of 500 pages or we become acquainted with what I can best describe as a grating cast of characters. Eligible is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice that seems mostly focused on making fun of how idiotic and delusional its characters are. It soon becomes apparent that this is a satirical work that depicts in a rather exaggerated fashion a family of ‘ancestry’ from Cincinnati. Eligible pokes fun at many modern trends such as dieting, yoga, CrossFit, reality shows, and the list goes on and on.
There were few scenes which managed to be satirical without being 1) irritating and 2) unfunny. Much of the novel’s satire relies on the idiocy of the characters, which ends making them seem only props for exposing certain ridiculous beliefs and behaviours.
As humour goes, these characters were unfunny and the narrative lacked the wit of a good satirist so that much of their silliness remains unchallenged or unremarked upon. Also, it seemed that readers were meant to find these characters funny or amusing merely because they are self-centred and irresponsible.
At times there were some interesting observations made about class and prejudice but most of the narrative seemed concerned with petty squabbles between equally horrible people. Although Liz isn’t as irritating as the other characters, she has these moments of complete stupidity that made her rather unpleasant. Her sisters were awful. I didn’t care for them since they are moronic. They are self-absorbed, careless, offensive…their mother made me seethe with anger. It was hard to believe that they didn’t realise what their expensive ways was costing them…and Liz never really calls them out on their behaviour. She doesn’t even defend herself when she is accused of (view spoiler).
The romance was…okay? Darcy seems to undergo a personality exchange towards the end … he just was boring.
Overall, in spite of its length, this book doesn’t manage to create well-rounded or believable characters. I know that much of what went on in this book was satirical but these characters were the most irritating and detestable characters I have read of in a while…which made me not care about their issues or struggles.

My rating: ★★★✰✰ 3 stars

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