This classic romantic comedy (435 pages) was published in January of 1970 by Penguin Classics. The book takes you to Regency England. Melissa read Pride and Prejudice and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
This much-adored novel features a disarming cast of sisters and parents and cousins and townsfolk who all bring their idiosyncrasies to bear in a tale of life and love in the 18th-century English countryside.
At the heart of the story is the Bennet family. They don’t have much money, but they do have five daughters and a burning necessity to marry them off to husbands as soon as possible, all the better to secure everyone’s futures.
The relentlessly kind and beautiful Jane is smitten with Mr. Charles Bingley. Silly wild-child Lydia falls into a desperate infatuation with a dashing soldier named Wickham. And Elizabeth, a.k.a., Lizzie — clever, fond of reading, sharp-tongued, not interested one whit in dumbing herself down to find a husband — meets Mr. Darcy. Fireworks of the not-always pleasant type ensue. She deems him too arrogant, too condescending, too proud — and swears to loathe him forever.
This is the proto-romantic comedy, and you’ll root for the Bennets and Darcy and Bingleys to find their hearts’ desire, while you will detest — with a deservedly white-hot passion — both Mr. Collins (an obsequious cousin with money and marriage on his mind) and the domineering snob Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who throws devastating conversational barbs during tea for her own amusement.
Boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy woos girl, girl rejects boy — and then there’s a turning point, thanks to the natural beauty found at the estate called Pemberley.
There are plenty of good arguments to be made about why this novel shows up on so many favorites lists, but for us, it’s always the characters. These are flesh-and-blood people who breathe on the page by regularly screwing things up, saying words that should never leave their mouths, embarrassing themselves and others, acting prideful, sharing moments of vulnerability, growing, learning, backsliding, laughing, crying, and basically being the kind of people you want to know.
They walked on, without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to any other objects. — Jane Austen
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