Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

cover

*****Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Reviewed December 31, 2001 and September 30, 2001.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2001
Many different editions are in print.
Available at Sembach Library (F AUS)

September 30, 2001 review:
I don’t think that Sembach Library has any Jane Austen books, but we do have a few movies based on her books, the best being Persuasion.  (Note:  We've gotten some since!)  One interesting thing about this movie is that it has a picture on the front cover of two people who aren’t even in the movie!

I told you I was thinking about Romantic Comedy.  Jane Austen, in my opinion, is the Queen of Romantic Comedy.  I’d like to say that she’s the original, since I couldn’t think of a writer of romantic comedy earlier than Jane Austen.  Then I thought of William Shakespeare, and I suppose I’ll have to concede that his comedies are exactly that.  Perhaps Jane Austen is the first author of Romantic Comedy in modern English.

I first read Pride and Prejudice in about 10th grade, on the recommendation of my friend Jennifer Schilpp.  The plot is essentially the same one used in the current movie You’ve Got Mail.  It involves our heroine’s pride keeping her from seeing the magnificent qualities of the hero until the end.  Jane Austen’s humor comes into play in her exquisite characterizations of the people of society life in the 18th Century.

Pride and Prejudice begins with that classic line:  “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife.”  I’m afraid that when my husband Steve was forced to read Pride and Prejudice in college English (If only I’d had that teacher!), that delightfully humorous line (to me) completely put him off.  This was before we were dating.  He said that he kept trying to read it, but simply couldn’t stand it.  In the end, the teacher had all the class members write a question for the final exam.  Steve’s question was chosen, so he got an automatic A on the final.  The ironic part was that he couldn’t have answered the question himself.

I had an instructor who didn’t think that Jane Austen’s works were worth studying.  So when our term paper was to choose an English author and explain why their works were worth studying, I chose Jane Austen.  I had months to write the paper, and ended up using the time reading every Jane Austen book written.  Then, as with all my other college term papers (Thank goodness I was a Math major, and didn’t have many!) I wrote the paper by staying up all night the night before.  I still believe that Jane Austen’s books would be all the more highly regarded if women, not men, were the main arbiters of taste in literature.  Now I have quite a little set of movies based on Jane Austen books, but I only watch them when Steve is out of town!

December 31, 2001 review:

Yes, I know, I mentioned Pride and Prejudice before, in Sonderbooks #9.  However, this week I watched the movie You’ve Got Mail, and after that I simply had to reread Pride and Prejudice.  You see, the plot of You’ve Got Mail is very loosely based on the plot of Pride and Prejudice.  Pride and Prejudice is the heroine’s favorite book, but the hero can hardly get through it.  I love that part, since my husband can’t stand the book, either.

Such a delight!  How exquisitely and patiently Jane Austen takes us through Elizabeth Bennet’s impressions and opinions.  Along with Elizabeth, we too get the wrong first impressions and must undergo drastic changes of opinions.  This one is especially fun to reread and watch how delicately she presents the characters changing their opinions of each other.  This is definitely one to reread over and over again down through the years.

Reader comment:  An anonymous reader gives this book five stars.

Review of another book by Jane Austen:
Northanger Abbey

Reviews of books related to Jane Austen:
Flirting with Pride and Prejudice, edited by Jennifer Crusie
A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz
An Assembly Such As This:  Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, Book 1, by Pamela Aidan
Duty and Desire:  Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, Book 2, by Pamela Aidan
These Three Remain:  Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, Book 3, by Pamela Aidan
Sense and Sensibility, by Joanna Trollope
Northanger Abbey, by Val McDermid
Emma, by Alexander McCall Smith
Austenland, by Shannon Hale
Midnight in Austenland, by Shannnon Hale
Jane Austen in Scarsdale, by Paula Marantz Cohen
Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen, by Fay Weldon
Jane and the Man of the Cloth, by Stephanie Barron
Jane and the Wandering Eye, by Stephanie Barron
Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House, by Stephanie Barron
Jane and the Ghosts of Netley,
by Stephanie Barron
Death Comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James
Pride and Prescience, by Carrie A. Bebris
Suspense and Sensibility, by Carrie A. Bebris
North by Northanger, by Carrie Bebris
The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler
For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund
Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl
First Impressions, by Marilyn Sachs
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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