Clearly this book is so well known as to not require further reviews, but it’s one of my favourites so I’d still like to say a few words about it.
To my mind, this is one of the greatest love stories ever told. It’s a slow burn. It’s not ridiculously unbelievable head-over-heels crazy romance. The careful development of plot and feelings makes sense. Darcy’s initial unflattering proposal and his later change in demeanour, Lizzy’s vehement dislike that grows to love as she starts to see the real Darcy and understands all that he has done and is willing to do for the people close to him – it makes total sense. And yet it’s sweet, romantic – and let’s not forget really funny, and brings tears to my eyes.
It’s solid. The dialogue driven plot is carefully puzzled together, without much extraneous detail or information. It’s self-contained and seems from all accounts to give a good (albeit idealised in the sense that most of the characters get a happy ending) representation of a certain historical time and class of society.
It’s full of humour and sarcastic wit. Austen is a shrewd observer of human nature, and the writing flourishes in her descriptions of our dramatis personae and their interactions with each other.
She also seems to realise one truth: that people do not change much, in essence. The changes in the characters of Lizzy and Darcy are mainly due to them being misrepresented in the first place or the characters themselves gaining new information. They remain in essentials the same. Wickham and Lydia do not learn anything from their scandalous adventure, because they are in essence frivolous and self-absorbed people, and remain so. Mr. Bennet has a temporary period of serious regret and self-reproof after the Lydia and Wickham debacle, but soon returns to his old self.
It is no little compliment to the text that the acclaimed 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation keeps the story and indeed the dialogue almost completely unchanged. Which of course I know because I am obsessed with the BBC miniseries and remember it almost verbatim, and – yes – am now watching it again. There, I said it. And perhaps it is indeed so well loved not only due to the impeccable acting by all, but because it is such a faithful representation of the original text.
It stands the test of time. It remains not only a favourite of mine, but of millions of other readers as well as critics and literary scholars both.
And now if you’ll excuse me I have some more swooning over Colin Firth to do. Important business such as this can no longer be postponed.