Oh, Mr Darcy.
What is it about Pride and Prejudice that pulls me in each and every time?
Now, it’s one of my favourite books, and I very much enjoy it, but why do I find myself coming back to it time and time again?
Part of it’s affection, I think, and a healthy dash of nostalgia. I’ve read this book curled up on the couch of our little house in Gilesgate, while a Durham winter rages outside. I’ve read this book on the beach in Findhorn, basking in the pale and golden Scottish sunshine. I’ve read this on planes, trains, deckchairs, under blankets, in a classroom. It’s a part of my own personal history.
I have affection for the characters too. Oh, to be witty and admired like Elizabeth, or beautiful and kind like Jane! Lydia, Mrs Bennet, Caroline Bingley, Mr Collins – they are all annoying, to be sure, but knowing them and their little ways and foibles just serves to feed into the cosiness and familiarity of the text.
I think the book has a great plot. Essentially, it’s a romcom for the Regency period, but I love the subtle details of class, elegance and manners that flow through Austen’s books effortlessly. It’s a story that we have heard many, many times, and yet P&P fizzes with wit and joy.
And oh, what wit. As lovely as Austen makes her main characters, she pulls no punches when describing the ill-mannered, the unkind, or the stupid. And her wit is all the sweeter because she only deploys it when necessary, and does so with deadly aim. Thus, Kitty and Lydia, who are incredibly silly, are ripe for ridicule; whereas Charlotte Lucas, who is good and noble, is commented on, but not parodied or made fun of in the same way.
By gosh, I love this book. So glad I chose (once again) to reread it this summer!
What are your favourite books, lovelies? Are there any which you keep coming back to, again and again?