Have I ever told you I'm not a fan of classic? Am sure we've had this discussion. But, in case we haven't, I'm not the biggest fan of classics. Not because I hate any book that is over a certain of years old. It's just they worry me. These books are "Classics", which means they are going to be not accessible to me reading them. They are going to be hard work.
But, here's the thing. I don't want to be. I want to try new things. That's the plan for this year - be braver in my reading habits and if I want to read/audiobook a book that's a little outside of my comfort zone, do it!
So, when Audible announced they were going to be releasing a new audiobook of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, read by Rosamund Pike, I thought "This is it!". I mean, I have watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved, two web series based on Austen's work and I really enjoyed watching them so I wanted to read Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Just wasn't sure when. But this audiobook came out and I thought "Sod it! Am buying this and am going to listen to it!"
Now, we all must know the plot to Pride and Prejudice. If not, I'm not sure I can do the book justice, but am going to try. In the 19th century, Mr and Mrs Bennet have five unmarried daughters. When Mr Bingley and his friend, Mr Darcey, move into neighbourhood, Mrs Bennet thinks they would be perfect for her daughters. While Mr Bingley takes a liking to the eldest, Jane, it is her sister, Elizabeth, who we follow as she and Mr Darcy clash with each other while trying to adapt to society.
That's the vaguest I think I can write it. I know there is a hell of a lot more - pride, prejudice, first impressions, second impressions, that immortal first sentence ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" - I somehow doubt that if Austen was alive today, she wouldn't have used that sentence...).
So, reactions. I am surprised by how much I enjoyed myself while listening to this. My biggest fear with this was going to be hard or near impossible for me to get my head round. Like I said earlier on, I had a huge worry that this was going to be inaccessible and I was going to have to watch Lizzie Bennet so I can get my head round what was happening. But, I didn't. It was so easy to get into the story and to keep up. I didn't have any moments when etiquette from the time period made me go "Wait, what?" - I understood and sniggered a little on how relevant it still is today, even though this book was written how many years ago?
This book was, also, quite subtle. I found that very surprising. Yes, I know the basic plot with Elizabeth and Mr Darcy - I knew how it ended - but it was still a surprise over how subtlety their story unfolded and how both characters grew because of the events happening around them.
There were a few things I didn't like about the writing. My main is dialogue. I like dialogue, but there were times we had characters speaking, but we had no idea what they said because it was written in a paragraph (aka "They talked for quite some time about the weather"). While i get why this is the case, there were one or two times I was "Can we not hear them speak?"
And the audiobook. How did I feel about Rosamund Pike's performance? For the most part, I enjoyed it. There were one or two characters who voices took me out of the story. For example, Rosamund Pike's take on Mr Collins's voice always threw me as it was very breathless. There was one or two times I was worried that he was on the verge of an asthma attack.
Barring one or two things, I did enjoy myself with this. I'm not hugely in love with this book like I expected, but I enjoyed myself and am planning to read another Austen sometime in the future (am thinking either Emma or Persuasion). Or maybe risk PD James's crime "sequel" to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley. But I am glad I finally read this and got why everyone either adores or hugely respects this book...