As anyone who has ever asked me can tell you (and even some who haven’t) my favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.
The love (obsession) began during 3rd or 4th grade when my mom introduced me to the beautiful 5 hours and 23 minutes of BBC’s 1995 version of the book with Jennifer Ehle starring as Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. You know the one. The one where you get to see Colin Firth in a wet shirt and trousers. Yep, that one.
I fell in love with the story and when my mom found a Great Illustrated Classics (a series that does condensed versions of classic pieces of literature with illustrations to make more sense of it – kind of like a bride between the illustrated children’s books I was used to and the books without illustrations I now read) version of the book I devoured it.
In 5th grade (first semester, I believe), I started reading the original story. I didn’t finish it until mid-to-late 6th grade.
I was so frustrated with the story, with the author, and with my complete inability to understand what I was reading, something I had never experienced before (having experience it then, though, certainly helped me deal with it later when I got to Shakespeare). And if I remember correctly, I swore that I would never read that book again unless forced by school.
I watched the 1995 version a few more times, however, and decided to read the novel again the summer before 8th grade.
I finished it in a week.
Since then, I’ve read it once a summer, making this summer, and this read, my 4th time reading it.
I have also seen the 2005 version with Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (which I will admit, I did not like the first time I watched it because of how much they changed; I like it a lot more now and don’t mind the changes too much) and am currently watching BBC’s 1980 version on Netflix.
I watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a YouTube show written by Hank Green and Bernie Su, in a couple of days (which I am rather proud of as it consists of 100 episodes, many of which are over 4 minutes long, and it was during the school week).
I have read Mr. Darcy’s Story and the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series (consisting of An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire, and These Three Remain). Elizabeth Eulberg has adapted the book to a modern setting in a border school in the form of Prom and Prejudice. On my physical bookshelf, the Mr. Darcy’s Daughters series has found a home. On the slightly less physical bookshelf of my Kindle, Pride and Princesses, Georgiana Darcy’s Diary, Pride and Persistence, All the Appearance of Goodness, The Future Mrs. Darcy, Pride and Popularity, Mr. Darcy Forgets, and The Darcys of Pemberly reside. There would be more, but I ran out of money. And time.
The funny thing about me liking Pride and Prejudice so much is that I don’t even know why I like it. Perhaps it is that I connect so much with Elizabeth Bennet. Perhaps it is that Darcy goes from someone I cannot stand, even though I know how it ends, to someone I wish actually existed. But, you know, as someone my own age. Perhaps it is that it proves to me that true love must exist somewhere, even if it is just in someone’s imagination. Whatever it is, I hope I won’t escape soon.
I like other pieces of Jane Austen’s work, too.
The second Jane Austen story I was introduced to was 1995’s Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my list for this summer.
I have also seen a couple of different versions on Emma, which I read (slowly) during 8th grade (too many parties and conversations and not nearly enough action or travel). I still rather like the story, though. Hank Green and Bernie Su are also doing a version of this story on YouTube called Emma Approved. I have also read Mr. Knightley’s side of the story in Mr. Knightley’s Diary.
I have seen Persuasion a couple of times. That story was a little harder for me to get into at first, but as I like the ending, I will read it.
Not nearly as many, but a few, modern adaptions and extensions of her other works are on my bookshelf. I also own a book with her complete collection, including early works and unfinished works.
Basically, I love Pride and Prejudice far too much for my own good. But maybe, just maybe, we need something like that in our lives every once in a while. And if that is the case, I’m certainly not complaining.