“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen started off annoying me and ended up enchanting me. Up until about page one hundred I found this book vexing, frivolous and down right tedious. I now count myself as a convert to the Austen cult.
I must confess I have been known to express an antipathy for anything written or set before 1900. I just cannot get down with corsets, outdoor plumbing and buggy rides. Whenever someone dips a quill into an inkwell my eyes glaze over. This is a shortcoming I readily own up to but have no desire to correct. So I admit to not starting this book with the highest of hopes. I did really enjoy Ang Lee’s “Sense and Sensibility” however and so when my friend threw the gauntlet down I dutifully picked it up.
Boy did I hate him at first. To get anywhere with this book one has to immerse oneself in the realities of life and marriage in the nineteenth century. At first all this talk of entailment and manners just left me cold. I liked the language to be sure. Austen’s dialogue is delightful through out but dialogue alone (no matter how delicious) does not a great novel make.
A hundred pages or so in though I started to see what a shrewd eye for character this Austen woman had. Mr. Collins was the first person I marvelled at. His character springs forth fully formed as a total but somehow loveable ass. From that point on I found much to love about this book. I was so into it by the end that I was laughing at some characters, sympathizing with others and clucking my tongue at an unhappy few. In short I was completely absorbed.