Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 43-49: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 15 Giveaway

Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something! The Narrator, Chapter 43

Quick Synopsis

Elizabeth and the Gardiner’s travel to Pemberley by carriage and are awed by its splendor. “of this place, I might have been mistress.” The housekeeper’s account of Mr. Darcy’s character counters Elizabeth previous conclusions. Mr. Darcy’s surprise arrival and attentive manner changes the course of their relationship. Elizabeth is grateful that he is not bitter over the past and her feelings toward him change. News from Longbourn of Lydia’s elopement shocks Elizabeth into tears and Darcy into retreat. Elizabeth and the Gardiner’s return home in pursuit of finding Lydia. Wickham’s bad debts and reputation are discovered by others. Mr. Collins writes to console the family but actually insults them. Mr. Bennet receives news from London that the couple will marry on very easy financial terms. He is suspicious, Mrs. Bennet ecstatic and the Bennet daughters relieved.

Musings

Elizabeth begins another journey of discovery when she and the Gardiner’s visit Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s Derbyshire estate. Never had she seen a place where “nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.” They are awed by its splendor and Elizabeth reflects, “and of this place I might have been mistress.” I think this chapter is one of the rare instances in which Austen describes a residence and grounds in such detail. I believe it is a build up to what Elizabeth will experience when they apply to the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds for a tour of Pemberley House. Not only is his home furnished according to his wealth, but its style is elegant, not gaudy or ostentatious like Rosings. This is a reflection of Darcy’s personality that Elizabeth had not realized before, coupled with the praise of his character by his faithful servant and Elizabeth is astonished and the Gardiner’s puzzled over her previous account of his proud and arrogant nature. As she gazes upon his portrait in the family gallery her feelings for him begin to change and respect and admiration take over her former prejudices. When they meet by surprise in the garden both of their reactions are classic as they blush and stammer for conversation. I love this scene. Here is Lizzy who is never at a loss for words or self-confidence frozen in silence. Ha! And Darcy the well-educated and eloquent man who she previously accused of having a taciturn nature only ready to speak if he can amaze the room, unable to do so. Their next scenes as they come together and walk through the grounds of Pemberley are one of Austen’s finest. There were so many passages to quote but I narrowed it down to one of my favorites.

No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him, that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature by the testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of goodwill which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude — gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection. The Narrator, Chapter 44

Elizabeth’s transformation from pride and prejudice is almost complete. Gratitude for kindness and understanding is a form of admiration and esteem and a solid basis for a relationship. It is almost the opposite of the conceited independence that Miss Bingley accused her of earlier in the novel. She is sincerely puzzled by his change in manner. His civility and marked attentions could only mean that he is still in love with her and wants to earn her favor.

[F]or to love, ardent love, it must be attributed; and as such, its impression on her was of a sort to be encouraged, as by no means unpleasing, though it could not be exactly defined. She respected, she esteemed, she was grateful to him, she felt a real interest in his welfare; and she only wanted to know how far she wished that welfare to depend upon herself, and how far it would be for the happiness of both that she should employ the power, which her fancy told her she still possessed, of bringing on the renewal of his addresses. The Narrator, Chapter 44

Austen often throws us from a poignant and moving scene of realization or enlightenment for her heroine right into the hornets’ nest of opposition. In this instance it is the re-introduction of acerbic and spiteful Caroline Bingley. She sees Darcy’s interest in Elizabeth as more than admiration of her fine eyes and decides to remind him of her family’s deficiencies with her cutting remark about the loss to her family by the removal of the militia from Meryton. Interestingly, her attempts to disparage Elizabeth in his eyes backfire, when the thought of the regiment also includes the association of Wickham hurting tender Georgiana who is still sensitive to the Ramsgate elopement debacle. Clueless that she has offended Darcy and Georgiana she continues to bad mouth Elizabeth after she departs by listing her physical defects like she is disqualifying a horse at auction.

“I must confess that I never could see any beauty in her. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; and her features are not at all handsome. Her nose wants character — there is nothing marked in its lines. Her teeth are tolerable, but not out of the common way; and as for her eyes, which have sometimes been called so fine, I never could perceive anything extraordinary in them. They have a sharp, shrewish look, which I do not like at all; and in her air altogether there is a self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable.” Caroline Bingley, Chapter 45

It was gratifying to see Caroline fail at enticing neither Georgiana or Darcy to join in in her criticism and to hear him come to Elizabeth’s defense, “Yes,” replied Darcy, who could contain himself no longer, “but that  was only when I first knew her; for it is many months since I have considered her as one of the handsomest women of my acquaintance.” Ouch!

Things are going well for our lovers then the other shoe drops. Darcy arrives at her lodgings at Lambton to find a disturbing scene.

She burst into tears as she alluded to it, and for a few minutes could not speak another word. Darcy, in wretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his concern, and observe her in compassionate silence. At length she spoke again. “I have just had a letter from Jane, with such dreadful news. It cannot be concealed from any one. My youngest sister has left all her friends — has eloped; — has thrown herself into the power of — of Mr. Wickham. They are gone off together from Brighton. You know him too well to doubt the rest. She has no money, no connexions, nothing that can tempt him to — she is lost for ever.” The Narrator, Chapter 46

All of Darcy’s former grievances of the deficiencies of Elizabeth’s family come true. Lydia’s elopement will taint their family’s reputation and severely lessen what slim chance the Bennet daughters had to attract suitable husbands. The shame and grief is so great for Elizabeth she is overcome with emotion. Darcy departs and Elizabeth feels that her chance with him is lost.

Be that as it may, she saw him (Mr. Darcy) go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia’s infamy must produce, found additional anguish as she (Elizabeth) reflected on that wretched business. The Narrator, Chapter 46

She and the Gardiner’s return to Longbourn and Mr. Gardiner continues on to London where Mr. Bennet is in pursuit of the couple.  The household is in shock and Mrs. Bennet despondent, sequestered in her bedroom in a nervous fit of flutterings and spasms. Right. After all of this tragic news and wretched angst Austen gives us moral humor.

“Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable — that one false step involves her in endless ruin — that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful — and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.” Mary Bennet, Chapter 47

And then of course Mr. Collins must put in his oar.

“They agree with me in apprehending that this false step in one daughter will be injurious to the fortunes of all the others; for who, as Lady Catherine herself condescendingly says, will connect themselves with such a family? And this consideration leads me moreover to reflect, with augmented satisfaction, on a certain event of last November; for had it been otherwise, I must have been involved in all your sorrow and disgrace. Let me advise you then, my dear sir, to console yourself as much as possible, to throw off your unworthy child from your affection for ever, and leave her to reap the fruits of her own heinous offence.” Mr. Collins, Chapter 48

Doom and gloom for the Bennet family until a letter arrives from Mr. Gardiner with the good news that the couple has been found and agrees to marry. Mr. Bennet is rather pensive about it while Lizzy and Jane think it is excellent news. Their father sees the truth between the lines. No one would want Lydia for such a small sum.

“Yes, yes, they must marry. There is nothing else to be done. But there are two things that I want very much to know: one is, how much money your uncle has laid down, to bring it about; and the other, how I am ever to pay him.” Mr. Bennet, Chapter 49

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 15 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of the Modern Library edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating why you think Mr. Darcy has had a change of heart and is so civil to Elizabeth when they meet again at Pemberley or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 16  July 09     William Gilpin and Jane Austen
Day 17  July 10     Group Read: Chapters 50 – 56
Day 18  July 11     Top Ten P&P editions in print

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for July 2010

The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in July, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)

Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd

Mansfield Park is considered (by some) to be the dark horse of Austen’s oeuvre and her heroine Fanny Price weak and insipid. I do not agree, but the majority of readers might find this new novel an improvement since the narrative is “renovated” (not unlike Sotherton) and Fanny gets bumped off. Shepherd mixes up Austen’s classic story by switching the protagonist and antagonist, morphing other characters and plot points and spotlighting the murder instead of the the moralistic undertones that Austen chose to soft shoe her narrative. Personally, secondary to Jane Austen, I enjoy a good murder mystery, so this reader is quite charmed at the possibility of having both together. (Publishers description) In this ingenious new twist on Mansfield Park, the famously meek Fanny Price–whom Jane Austen’s own mother called “insipid”–has been utterly transformed; she is now a rich heiress who is spoiled, condescending, and generally hated throughout the county. Mary Crawford, on the other hand, is now as good as Fanny is bad, and suffers great indignities at the hands of her vindictive neighbor. It’s only after Fanny is murdered on the grounds of Mansfield Park that Mary comes into her own, teaming-up with a thief-taker from London to solve the crime. Featuring genuine Austen characters–the same characters, and the same episodes, but each with a new twist – Murder at Mansfield Park is a brilliantly entertaining novel that offers Jane Austen fans an engaging new heroine and story to read again and again. St. Martin’s Griffin, Trade Paperback (384) pages, ISBN: 978-0312638344

Review of Murder at Mansfield Park in the Sterling Observer

Austen’s Oeuvre

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, illustrator Chris Hammond, introduction by Joseph Jacobs

Dover has done it again! They have taken a classic Victorian illustrated edition of a Jane Austen novel and reproduced the interior exactly offering the book lover the next best thing to the original. Their first volume in this series of hardback collector editions was Pride and Prejudice. For any of you who collect vintage Austen editions it is a reproduction of the popular and pricey 1894 ‘Peacock’ edition illustrated by Hugh Thomson. This edition of Sense and Sensibility illustrated by Chris Hammond is even more beautiful and my personal favorite Victorian edition of a Jane Austen novel. Enjoy! (Publishers description) A delightful comedy of manners, this novel concerns the romantic travails of two sisters, who struggle to balance passion and prudence. It abounds in the author’s customary wit and engaging characterizations. This handsome hardcover gift edition features a dust jacket and more than 60 charming drawings by a leading Victorian-era illustrator. Dover Publications, Hardcover (416) pages, ISBN: 978-0486477435.

Audiobooks

The Watsons/Sanditon (Naxos Complete Classics), by Jane Austen, read by Anna Bentinck

Now available outside of the audio collection Jane Austen: the Complete Novels, readers can listen to two of Austen’s unfinished works professionally produced and read by BBC Radio personality Anna Bentinck. They are gems, and you might be pleasantly surprised. (Publishers description) One abandoned, one unfinished, these short works show Austen equally at home with romance (a widowed clergyman with four daughters must needs be in search of a husband or two in The Watsons) and with social change (a new, commercial seaside resort in Sanditon). Typically touching, funny, charming and sharp. Naxos AudioBooks, 4 CDs, 4h 29m, ISBN: 978-9626342817

Read my review of The Watsons/Sanditon

Austen’s Contemporaries & Beyond

Helen, by Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) was a major “best selling” novelist of her day, surpassing many of her male counterparts. Jane Austen admired her so much that she sent one of the 12 presentation copies of Emma that she received from her publisher even though they had never corresponded or met. Regretfully, Austen did not have the opportunity to read Helen since she died in 1817, but you can judge for yourself why she and her contemporaries valued Edgeworth and why she merits this re-issue of her 1834 novel. (Publishers description) The last and most psychologically powerful novel by Jane Austen’s leading rival, the newly orphaned Helen Stanley is urged to share the home of her childhood friend Lady Cecilia. This charming socialite, however, is withholding secrets and soon Helen is drawn into a web of ‘white lies’ and evasions that threaten not only her hopes for marriage but her very place in society. A fascinating panorama of Britain’s political and intellectual elite in the early 1800s and a gripping romantic drama, Helen was the inspiration for Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters. Sort of Books, Trade paperback (544) pages, ISBN: 9780956003898

Review of Helen in the Scotland Herald

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 36-42: Summary, Musing & Discussion: Day 13 Giveaway

With a strong prejudice against everything he might say, she began his account of what had happened at Netherfield. She read with an eagerness which hardly left her power of comprehension, and from impatience of knowing what the next sentence might bring, was incapable of attending to the sense of the one before her eyes. The Narrator, Chapter 36

Quick Synopsis

Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter analyzing every point to discover the truth. She does not agree that her sister Jane was indifferent to Bingley, but after Darcy’s account of his dealings with Wickham admonishers herself for being so blinded by prejudice. Until this moment she never knew herself. She returns to Longbourn to hear that the regiment is leaving for Brighton where Lydia wished to go as guest of Col & Mrs. Forster. Elizabeth strongly warns her father against it. She is “the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.” Mr. Bennet sees no harm, and Lydia is off to flirt with officers. Elizabeth departs with her aunt & uncle Gardiner for a tour of Derbyshire. They stay at Lambton where Mrs. Gardiner had previously lived. Pemberley is near by and she wished to see it again but Elizabeth is anxious not to see Darcy. She agrees to tour the estate only after learning the family is away, and to Pemberley they go.

Musings

Elizabeth’s reaction to the letter is a journey of discovery as she analyzes Mr. Darcy’s account against her own previous conclusions. At the beginning, she is prejudiced against him. She does not want to believe what he has shared about his assumptions about Jane’s indifference to Bingley or Mr. Wickham’s account of Darcy’s ill treatment of him. Like Elizabeth, I re-read Mr. Darcy’s letter and this chapter several times. There is so much to digest for her, and us, as we witness the process of her mind in weighing both sides of the story. Such strong reactions and disbelief on her part makes us resist – like her – that the information that Darcy has shared might be true. As she goes down every point there is a counterpoint in opposition that she presents. The tide in favor of her believing his explanations begins to turn when Mr. Darcy shares the story of his sister Georgiana’s romance and failed elopement with Mr. Wickham. The story does line up with events that she has learned the previous morning from Col Fitzwilliam.  She then recollects her encounters and conversations with Wickham and sees him in a new light.

She was now struck with the impropriety of such communications to a stranger, and wondered it had escaped her before. She saw the indelicacy of putting himself forward as he (Mr. Wickham) had done, and the inconsistency of his professions with his conduct. The Narrator. Chapter 36

And then she realizes her mistakes, and openly admits them to herself.

“How despicably have I acted!” she cried; “I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 36

With that last statement, a heroine of the ages was born. Elizabeth might have been spirited, defiant and impertinent to a fault, but we have now witnessed her greatest asset, the ability to acknowledge her mistakes, admonish herself and see her life in a new light. This is the axis of the novel. The epiphany that Austen wanted us to experience and identify with. A universal truth that we should all know, but is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn. We are all fallible. What we do with our understanding of this is the measure of our life. If you take anything away with you from reading this novel, let it be this.

Wholly inattentive to her sister’s feelings, Lydia flew about the house in restless ecstacy, calling for every one’s congratulations, and laughing and talking with more violence than ever; whilst the luckless Kitty continued in the parlour repining at her fate in terms as unreasonable as her accent was peevish. The Narrator, Chapter 41

As if in complete opposition to Elizabeth having her break-through moment of growth and maturity, Austen changes the focus of the story to silly Lydia, her quest for officers and the Brighton scheme. And what a divergence we are presented with. Unguarded, imprudent and wildly exuberant, Lydia is so out of control that Elizabeth warns her father that at “she will at sixteen, be the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous.” No kidding! Unfortunately, he would prefer not to deal with her and sees the advantage of allowing her to go to Brighton and expose herself in public with as little cost or inconvenience to her family. Despicable parenting. Obviously, the “put blinders on and let them run wild philosophy” was born long before the “me” generation took all the credit for it. I think Lydia was their original poster girl! This passage certainly confirms it.

She saw herself the object of attention to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp — its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once. The Narrator, Chapter 41

La! So Lydia departs for Brighton with Col and Mrs. Forster. Out of sight, out of mind. Elizabeth deals with the gloom, misery and lamentations in her household of Kitty and Mrs. Bennet’s grief over the regiment moving to Brighton by looking forward to her trip to the Lakes with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. Their plans change and their travel is redirected to Derbyshire where Mrs. Gardiner formerly lived. She wished to see the beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak once again. Apprehensive about entering the same county as Mr. Darcy’s main residence, Elizabeth and the Gardiners depart on their journey north in pursuit of novelty and amusement. They bend their steps toward Lambton, Mrs. Gardiner’s former residence, and her aunt informs her that Pemberley is only five miles away. She has an inclination to see it again. Elizabeth does not. The possibility of meeting Mr. Darcy while viewing his home would be dreadful. Getting the low down on the Darcy family from the people in the know (the chambermaid) she is assured that the family is away and sees no harm in viewing a grand estate that she has heard so much about. With all of her alarms removed – “To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 13 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Longman’s Cultural edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what Elizabeth’s announcement “Till this moment I never knew myself.” means to you or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 14  July 05     Food at the Netherfield Ball
Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49
Day 16  July 09     William Gilpin and Jane Austen

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: A Closer Look at Carriages and Characters in Pride and Prejudice

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Mags from AustenBlog who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency history. Today she explores who drives what in P&P and why. Elizabeth may object to traveling fifty miles from Kent to Hertfordshire, but what is fifty miles of good road if you have a fine carriage? (or Henry Tilney to drive you)

An author—especially a talented and clever one like Jane Austen—subtly imparts information about her characters with details such as their occupation, their mode of conversation, and even something seemingly so minor as their carriage. In Pride and Prejudice, the alert reader can pick up information not only about the characters but about the plot itself from the type of carriage used by a character in a particular situation.

In Jane Austen’s day, a carriage was definitely a luxury item. They were expensive to purchase, naturally, and there were ongoing expenses in repair, storage, coachmen to care for and operate them, and the ongoing expenses of maintaining or renting horses to pull them; so it was a matter of interest to the impertinently nosy whether a person kept a carriage, and what kind. It was almost a method of broadcasting one’s wealth to the world.

“I do not believe a word of it, my dear. If he had been so very agreeable, he would have talked to Mrs. Long. But I can guess how it was; every body says that he is ate up with pride, and I dare say he had heard somehow that Mrs. Long does not keep a carriage, and had come to the ball in a hack chaise.”

Not that he isn’t capable of snobbery, but one suspects Mr. Darcy doesn’t particularly care about Mrs. Long and her carriage or lack thereof, and had plenty of other reasons not to talk to that lady at the Meryton assembly. Mrs. Bennet is here perhaps passing off her own personal snobbery onto Darcy.

Continue reading at AustenBlog

Further reading

Upcoming events posts

Day 13  July 03     Group Read: Chapters 36 – 42
Day 14  July 05     Music at the Netherfield Ball
Day 15  July 07     Group Read: Chapters 43 – 49

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapter 22-28: Summary, Musing & Discussion: Day 9 Giveaway

Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. The Narrator, Chapter 22

Quick Synopsis

Charlotte’s attention to Mr. Collins redirects his affections to her and he proposes. Elizabeth thinks it impossible, but Charlotte claims she is not romantic and only requires a comfortable home. Mrs. Bennet does not believe it either and thinks the Lucas’ are schemers and everyone has treated her barbarously. Mr. Collins returns to Kent. Caroline Bingley writes from London to Jane putting an end to any doubt of her brother Charles’ return to Netherfield in the near future, if ever. Elizabeth is certain that the Bingley sisters and Darcy have contrived to part Jane from him. Mrs. Gardiner and her family arrive for Christmas. She warns Elizabeth not to fall in love with Wickham. He has no money and it would be imprudent. Mr. Collins and Charlotte marry, departing for Hunsford. Jane returns with the Gardiners to London. Weeks pass and no sign of Caroline Bingley or her brother there. She gives up hope agrees she has been duped. Elizabeth will visit Charlotte, traveling to London to visit Jane and the Gardiners on the way. Wickham’s attentions are now away from her and on an heiress Miss King. The Gardiners invite Elizabeth to tour the Lakes with them next spring. Elizabeth arrives at Hunsford to find Mr. Collins as pompous as ever and Charlotte tolerant.

Musings

The very mention of anything concerning the match threw her into an agony of ill-humour, and wherever she went she was sure of hearing it talked of. The sight of Miss Lucas was odious to her. As her successor in that house, she regarded her with jealous abhorrence. The Narrator, Chapter 23

So the Lucas’ are schemers after the Bennet fortune. This is Mrs. Bennet’s reaction to the news of Charlotte’s marriage to Mr. Collins. Both she and her daughter Elizabeth are incredulous when they are told the news. Mr. Collins has within three days asked two women to marry him. Charlotte saw her chance after Elizabeth refused him and even though Elizabeth thinks she has not chosen well, Charlotte thinks quite the contrary. “I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connexions, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.” Does this point of view appear mercenary? Yes, and no. Her fiancé is a silly, pompous fool, but she will have her own home and not be a burden to her family. Even in today’s modern world it seems quite practical to me, though I would not choose it personally. Lizzy wants only to marry for love so she thinks Charlotte’s settling for Mr. Collins is impossible.  Both ladies personal choices are a gamble. But in life and love, a sure bet is never a certain thing.

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 24

Romantic disappointment is in the air. So, Jane has been jilted by Bingley, Mr. Collins refused by Elizabeth, Charlotte settles for a loveless life with Mr. Collins and Elizabeth must give up Wickham because he has no money and it would be an imprudent match. No wonder Elizabeth is getting cynical and is dissatisfied with the world. Her conversations with her aunt Gardiner see her sharing thoughts openly on romance and the reality of finances in courtship. Money seems to be fueling the plot. Darcy’s fortune makes him proud and disagreeable to all. Bingley’s fortune makes him agreeable but Jane Bennet the young woman he is interested in lack of fortune makes her unworthy in his family and friends eyes. Charlotte has no money and must accept an odious, pompous man who will inherit the Bennet estate. Wickham is badmouthing Darcy because he feels cheated out of his fortune. Elizabeth is attracted to Wickham but the match would be imprudent because he has no money, nor does she. Wickham must instead chase after a young woman who until she became an heiress, was of no interest to him. What a muddle.

“Pray, my dear aunt, what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

This question is answered when Elizabeth visits her newly married friend Charlotte at her home with Mr. Collins in Hunsford. It appears from the outside that Charlotte has what she craved; she is the mistress of her own home. Her discretion in marrying Mr. Collins with all of his flaws and foibles was questionable to Elizabeth, but it has given Charlotte the financial security and satisfaction that will not burden her family. Some may view this as avarice, but she thought it quite prudent. It will take Elizabeth a bit longer to see the practicality of it for her friend, even though she may never apply the philosophy to herself.

“what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

Amen. Let’s all go to the Lakes instead!

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 9 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of the Norton Critical Edition of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating if you think Charlotte Lucas was mercenary in her choice of Mr. Collins as a husband or which your favorite quote is from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 10  June 28     Dancing at the Netherfield Ball
Day 11  June 30     Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35
Day 12  July 02      Carriages in P&P

Pride and Prejudice: Group Read – Chapters 1-7: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 2 Giveaway

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. The Narrator, Chapter 1

Quick Synopsis

Charles Bingley, a single man of good fortune lets the estate of Netherfield Park, bringing his two fashionable sisters and rich friend Mr. Darcy into the social sphere of the Bennet family of Longbourn, local gentry who have five daughters to marry off with little dowry. Bingley is immediately attracted to eldest sister Jane, but Mr. Darcy finds no beauty in anyone and snubs second daughter Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her. His proud airs and arrogant manners give offense to all. The ladies of Longbourn visit the supercilious Bingley sisters at Netherfield. Elizabeth and Darcy cross paths. He is intrigued by her spirit and fine eyes. She thinks him disagreeable and proud. Mrs. Bennet brags about Jane and Bingley’s romance, convinced they will marry. Charlotte Lucas is not so certain. Jane is invited to Netherfield arriving on horseback in the rain, catching a cold. Elizabeth visits her having walked 3 miles in the mud. The Bingley sisters are appalled by her appearance, but ask her to stay to tend to her sister.

Musings

For as many times as I have seen the often over-quoted first line of Pride and Prejudice it still makes me laugh. Its verbal irony just sets the tone of the novel and makes me value Austen’s skill as a storyteller all the more. Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, two wealthy and eligible bachelors, do not enter the neighborhood in want of a wife. Quite the contrary. That they should be the rightful property of one of the local daughters is the truth universally acknowledged. It is the ladies of the community who are in need of a husband. A good match was what was expected of a young lady, and Mrs. Bennet with her five daughters, little dowry and an entailed estate is determined that it will happen. The fact that two such eligible gentlemen land unannounced in a neighborhood with few other local prospects is a gold mine to her, and every other mother in the county. No wonder she is in frenzy and determined to beat the other local families to his door. Mr. Bennet is nonplused. He would rather stay in his library than do his duty to his family, keeping them in suspense with the news that he has already introduced himself to his new neighbor. When Mr. Bingley and his party do appear at the Meryton Assembly, only one of the two gentlemen makes the cut. Bingley is amiable and agreeable, dancing and socializing. A true good catch. But his friend Mr. Darcy, though handsome, and richer, gives immediate offense to all with his arrogance and pride.

His character was decided. He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again. The Narrator, Chapter 3

When he snubs our heroine Elizabeth Bennet by calling her only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him to dance, we know that this black mark will not be easy to erase. I have always been puzzled that the community would be so quick to condemn him just based on his haughty demeanor. Money and social standing can be a strong equalizer of any shortfall. It is easy to forgive a rich man his offenses because, he has all the power. Wise Charlotte Lucas sees this and tells her friend Lizzy so, though in a round-about-way.

“His pride,” said Miss Lucas, “does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.”

“That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 5

That Mrs. Bennet is so quick to disqualify Darcy as a prospect for one of her daughters is amusing. Both Bingley and Darcy are rich and socially connected, yet she is vehemently opposed to Darcy because of his arrogant manners. In the Regency world, that is not prudent. Austen is showing us that Mrs. Bennet is not a clever woman, or she would be scheming to win his favor for one of her girls. Charlotte Lucas on the other hand reveals to Elizabeth how the world really works. Elizabeth who has declared she will only marry for love is quick to disqualify Darcy for her own personal reasons. He has wounded her pride by calling her only tolerable. She instantly agrees with her mother on her assessment of him. “I believe, ma’am, I may safely promise you never to dance with him.” Austen is showing us Elizabeth’s rash judgment in siding with her mother. We know from Mrs. Bennet’s previous conversations that she is not the best judge of character or the sharpest knife in the drawer. Elizabeth is clever. For her to succumb to her mother’s level is a red flag.

Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticise. But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she had hardly a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. The Narrator, Chapter 6

Hmm? Darcy is changing his tact? Why? What intrigues him about Elizabeth enough to admit his interest in a young lady of no wealth and little consequence to his friends? That opens himself up for attack. Elizabeth notices him watching her and is puzzled. Her reaction is to harden her line of defense. “He has a very satirical eye, and if I do not begin by being impertinent myself, I shall soon grow afraid of him.” Then in an act of total defiance she refuses to dance with him when he finally asks her, walking away in triumph. Nice psychological interchange here. Unknowingly, Elizabeth has just given him the strongest reasons to want her. Her indifference and rejection. It’s as old as the ages and works every time. Men cannot stand to lose. They love the chase. We know how much this has affected him when of all people, he admits to Caroline Bingley that he admires her fine eyes. Bold strategy to derail Caroline’s interest in him, or the impulse of smitten man? Caroline’s reaction is classic female counteract. Deride your opponent. “I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? — and pray, when am I to wish you joy?”  Ouch.

“I admire the activity of your benevolence,” observed Mary, “but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” Mary Bennet, Chapter 7

Just a brief word on Mary Bennet. A minor character, she only has eight passages of lines in the novel. This is one of her best. On the few occasions that she does speak, they are gems of ironic subjection. A giant punctuation point of out-of-sync advice that never fails to roll my eyes. Hear, hear for the clueless, the inept, and the oblivious! Thanks for the laughs Mary.

Further reading

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Day 2 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Barnes & Noble Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Mr. Darcy’s change of heart toward Elizabeth, or which is your favorite quote from the novel by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming Event Posts

Day 3 – June 18 P&P Publishing History
Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapters 8-14
Day 5 – June 20 P&P (Naxos Audio) Review

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Event & Novel Introduction: Day 1 Giveaway

Welcome

Over the next month we will be delving into Jane Austen’s most popular work, Pride and Prejudice by celebrating our origins, the novel, without any paranormal or mythical creatures mashed into it. Included with the event will be a group read, guest blogs on history, culture, plot, characterization, movie and book reviews and its burgeoning legacy, the sequels. Be sure to check out the complete event schedule and mark your calendars.

Novel Introduction

Considered a masterpiece of world literature by scholars and critics, Pride and Prejudice is equally appreciated by the general reading public often topping international polls of the “the most loved” or “favorite books” of all time. Numerous stage and screen adaptations continue to remind us of its incredible draw to the modern audience and reaffirm its value financially and culturally. Its hero and heroine Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet may be the most famous romantic couple short of Romeo and Juliet. Its plot, characters and style have been widely admired, often emulated but rarely equaled. High praise indeed for a novel written almost two hundred years ago by a clergyman’s daughter raised in the English countryside of Hampshire, home schooled by her father and unexalted in her lifetime. If Pride and Prejudice is the long shot of literature, then we are the lucky owners in the winner’s circle.

First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice was Jane Austen’s second novel after Sense and Sensibility in 1811. Written between 1796 and 1797, when Jane was not one and twenty, the edition we see today was not her first concept. Originally called First Impressions it was written in the epistolary format popular with contemporary novels such as Fanny Burney’s Evelina. Jane’s father Rev. George Austen was so confident in his daughter’s work that he pursued publication contacting one of the leading publishers Cadell & Davies in London only to have the manuscript returned by post unopened. After the success of Sense and Sensibility, Austen would make extensive revisions “lopping and cropping” the manuscript, retitling it and presenting it to her current publisher Thomas Egerton. He paid her £110 for the copyright. That was the only money she would ever earn from her most popular work. It is estimated that 20 million copies of it have been sold world-wide to date.

Set in the country village of Longbourn in Hertfordshire, the story revolves around the Bennet family and their five unmarried daughters. They are the first family of consequence in the village, unfortunately the Longbourn estate is entailed by default to a male heir, their cousin Mr. William Collins. This is distressful to Mrs. Bennet who knows that she must find husbands for her daughters or they shall all be destitute if her husband should die. Mr. Bennet is not as concerned and spends his time in his library away from his wife’s idle chatter and social maneuvering. The second eldest daughter Elizabeth is spirited and confident, wanting only to marry for love. She teases her eldest sister Jane that she must catch a wealthy husband with her beauty and good nature and support them. The three younger sisters Mary, Catherine and Lydia hinder their sister’s chances for a good match by inappropriate and unguarded behavior.

When Mr. Bingley, a single man of large fortune, moves into the neighborhood with his fashionable sisters he attends the local Meryton assembly ball and is immediately taken with beautiful Jane Bennet. His friend Mr. Darcy is even richer with a great estate in Derbyshire, but is proud and arrogant giving offense to all including Elizabeth by refusing to dance with her. She overhears him tell Bingley that she was only tolerable and not handsome enough to tempt him. This amuses and annoys her enough to repeat it to her friends and family. The whole community declares him the most disagreeable man, eaten up with pride.

Elizabeth and Darcy continue to cross paths and she challenges his contempt with impertinence. He is intrigued. She is indifferent. When the militia regiment arrives at Meryton, Elizabeth is introduced to the handsome Lieutenant Wickham who quickly reveals Mr. Darcy’s ill treatment of him, ruining his future. This only confirms Elizabeth’s prejudices against him. Jane and Bingley’s blossoming relationship seems to be a certain match in Mrs. Bennet’s view. As she brags about it to her neighbors, Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas is not so sure, advising her that Jane should show more affection than she feels. The Bennet’s cousin Rev. Collins arrives with the design of marrying one of the Bennet daughters. He is an odious, pompous man who extols upon the condescension of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and his comfortable arrangement as her pastor on her estate in Kent. He proposes to Elizabeth and she is appalled, refusing him. Mrs. Bennet will never speak to Lizzy if she does not marry Mr. Collins. Ironically, her father will not speak to her if she does, winning the argument and saving Elizabeth from certain misery.

Then, as abruptly as Mr. Bingley arrived in the county, he and his party depart for London with no immediate plans to return. Jane is heartbroken, Elizabeth puzzled and Mrs. Bennet despondent. Elizabeth is pleased that Mr. Darcy is gone, but saddened for her sisters loss of Bingley. What could it all mean? Elizabeth suspects Mr. Darcy and Bingley’s snobbish sisters have influenced his decision. The Bennet’s are not refined or rich enough for their society and they have separated them. Surprisingly, Charlotte Lucas reveals that she and Mr. Collins are to be married. Impossible declares Elizabeth who is told by her friend that she is not romantic like her. Elizabeth now realizes that marrying only for love might mean not marrying at all.

List of Characters

Reading Resources

We hope that you can join us during ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ as we discover the delights of one of Jane Austen’s most witty and romantic novels. We can guarantee absolutely a whole month of P&P madness sans zombies, vampires, werewolves, sea monsters, mummies, androids, trolls, angels, demons and any other paranormal or mythical creatures that are even thinking about appearing in a Jane Austen mash-up, prequel, retelling or sequel.

If you would like to join in the group read it’s time to read (or recite from memory) the first seven chapters. Be prepared to express your opinions decidedly. You can check out the event schedule and join in the group read of the novel which begins tomorrow, June 16th. Laurel Ann is also in a spring cleaning frenzy and culling her overflowing Austen bookshelves, so swag will run amuck.

We promise that no natural beauty will be counteracted by an awkward taste. ;-) Cross our heart and swear upon our Old Manor House edition of The Novels of Jane Austen, edited by R. Brimley Johnson (1906).

Laurel Ann

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ Day 1 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Penguin Classics edition Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the novel, or which is your favorite quote by midnight, Saturday, July 24th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 25th. Shipment to continental US addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming Event Posts

Day 2 – June 16 Group Read: Chapters 1-7
Day 3 – June 18 P&P Publishing History
Day 4 – June 19 Group Read: Chapter 8-14

Welcome to ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ – Reclaiming the Classic

“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 5

Welcome, to ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’, an in depth look at Jane Austen’s delightfully witty and compellingly romantic novel Pride and Prejudice. Please join us June 15th through July 17th 2010 as we reclaim Jane Austen’s classic novel back from the unmentionables and celebrate it as the classic of world literature that it deserves to be. Included will be a group read of the novel and discussion, guest bloggers, and plenty of great giveaways.

Is Mr. Darcy proud or shy?

Is Elizabeth Bennet playful or impertinent?

How can two such divergent personalities

find common ground and affection?

Event introduction Group reading schedule Event Schedule

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ Group Reading Schedule and Resources

The ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event begins right here on Austenprose on Tuesday, June 15th with an introduction to the novel and list of characters. To prime readers for the group read that starts the following day, here is the group reading schedule and some great reading and listening sources.

Group Reading Schedule

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Wednesday, June 16th – Chapters 1 – 7
Saturday, June 19th – Chapters 8 – 14
Wednesday, June 23rd – Chapters 15 – 21
Saturday, June 26th – Chapters 22 – 28
Wednesday, June 30th – Chapters 29 – 35
Saturday, July 03rd – Chapters 36 – 42
Wednesday, July 07th – Chapters 43 – 49
Saturday, July 10th – Chapters 50 – 56
Wednesday, July 14th – Chapters 57 – 61

Online eText’s

Print Editions

Pride and Prejudice (Oxford Worlds Classics), by Jane Austen, edited by Fiona Stafford

One of my favorite compact working editions of P&P, the supplemental material is excellent (except for the eh introduction) and the definitive text and notes are excellent. (Publishers description) Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighborhood, the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgments lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. This new edition includes a new introduction, updated notes, and new appendices on social rank and dancing in 19th-century England.

Supplemental material: Introduction, Note on the text, Select bibliography, Chronology, Textural notes, Appendixes on rank, social status and dancing.

Oxford University Press (2008)
Trade paperback (382) pages
ISBN: 978-0199535569

Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics), by Jane Austen, edited by Tony Tanner

This edition has many fine features equivalent to the Oxford Worlds Classics edition, but a far superior introduction by Tony Tanner that may be the most deigned in the industry. (Publishers description) Many consider this rich social commentary to be Jane Austen’s finest novel. It is certainly among her more famous ones. Austen sets her entertaining study of manners and misconceptions against the backdrop of a class-conscious society in 18th-century England.

Spirited, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet is alternately enchanted and affronted by Mr. Darcy. She is quick to suspend her usual, more rational judgment when it comes to him. She also is quick to believe the worst gossip about this haughty, opinionated man, who soon manages to alienate Elizabeth and her family. But is the condescending air that Mr. Darcy wars an indication of his real character? Or has Elizabeth’s pride gotten in the way of her chance for true romance?

Supplemental material includes: Chronology, Introduction, Notes on the Text, Corrections and emendations to the 1813 text, Thomas Egerton and the publication history, Legal and military background, Pemberley and its models, Explanatory notes.

Penguin Books (2002)
Trade paperback (480) pages
ISBN: 978-0141439518

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, edited by David M. Shapard

If you crave even more supplemental and explanatory notes than the two previous editions mentioned, this edition is one of the best. The entire text is annotated supplying the complete text on the left hand page and notes and explanations of the right. It’s about as detailed as any student or enthusiast could hope for. (Publishers description) This first-ever fully annotated edition of one of the most beloved novels in the world is a sheer delight for Jane Austen fans. Here is the complete text of Pride and Prejudice with more than 2,300 annotations on facing pages. Of course, one can enjoy the novel without knowing the precise definition of a gentleman, or what it signifies that a character drives a coach rather than a hack chaise, or the rules governing social interaction at a ball, but readers of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice will find that these kinds of details add immeasurably to understanding and enjoying the intricate psychological interplay of Austen’s immortal characters.

Supplemental material: Notes to the reader, Introduction, Notes on the text, Chronology, Bibliography, Maps.

Anchor Books (2007)
Trade paperback (739) pages
ISBN: 978-0307278104

The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Volume II: Pride and Prejudice (Oxford Illustrated Austen), by Jane Austen, edited by R. W. Chapman

The recommended choice of The Jane Austen Society of North America, this edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is part of a six volume set first published in 1926 and edited by the eminent Austen scholar R.W. Chapman. I find it indispensable in my library. (Publishers description) Elizabeth Bennet is at first determined to dislike Mr. Darcy, who is handsome and eligible. This misjudgment only matched in folly by Darcy’s arrogant pride. Their first impressions give way to truer feelings in a comedy concerned with happiness and how it might be achieved.

Supplemental material, Introduction, Notes, Chronology, Pride and Prejudice and Cecilia, Character list and Feigned places.

Oxford University Press (1988)
Hardcover (432) pages
ISBN: 978-0192547026

Audio Books

Pride and Prejudice (Naxos Classics), by Jane Austen, read by Emilia Fox

Audio books can be hit or miss totally dependent upon the listener’s connection to the reader. Happily actress Emilia Fox, who portrayed Georgiana Darcy in the 1995 BBC/A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice, has a lovely voice and engaging delivery. (Publishers description) Jane Austen’s most popular novel, originally published in 1813, some 17 years after it was first written, presents the Bennet family of Longbourn. Against the background of gossipy Mrs. Bennet and the detached Mr. Bennet, the quest is on for husbands for the five daughters. The spotlight falls on Elizabeth, second eldest, who is courted by Darcy though initially she is more concerned with the fate of her other sisters. This marvelous account of family life in Regency England is read with vigor and style by Emilia Fox.

Naxos Audio Books (2005)
11 Unabridged CD’s, 15 hours
ISBN: 978-9626343562

Pride & Prejudice (dramatized), by Jane Austen, adapted by Christina Calvit

Here is a bit of a novelty for you. An audio recording of a full stage dramatization of P&P. Next best thing would be attending the play itself. (Publishers description) Jane Austen s classic romantic comedy is the sparkling tale of the Bennets, a family blessed with five daughters and a mother desperate to marry them off. The tempestuous pairing of the witty, independent Elizabeth and her arrogant but honorable suitor Mr. Darcy, sets the standard for all great couples of stage and screen. Although many have tried, few literary romances have matched the wit and gentle satire of Austen s Pride and Prejudice. Staring Kate Burton, Miriam Margolyes and Kevin Theis.

L.A. Theatre Works (2007)
Unabridged dramatization CD
ISBN: 978-1580813594

eBooks

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

The Austen elves at Girlebooks have assembled an excellent selection of Jane Austen’s Works, Juvenilia and Letters in their usual thoughtful and well formatted layout for your desk top or eReader, all free for your reading enjoyment. (Publishers description) First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of Jane Austen’s novels. Its manuscript was first written between 1796 and 1797, initially called First Impressions, but was never published under that title. It follows the story of the Bennets, a family of 5 daughters, and their trials through romance, economics, pride, and prejudice.

Available formats: Adobe Reader PDF, ePub, Microsoft Reader LIT, Mobipocket/Kindle PRC, Plain Text.

GirleBooks.com
eBook

Please join in the celebration of ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ starting Tuesday, June 15th. I am looking forward to reading Jane Austen’s most popular novel together with you all. We can all express our opinions quite decidedly to irritate Lady Catherine and exorcise the zombies.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

My Top Ten Favorite Pride and Prejudice Covers Meme – Vote for Yours!

Jennie at The Bennet Sisters blog has started a meme that I could not resist. She asks which are your top ten favorite Pride and Prejudice covers? Lord knows there are hundreds of them out there. A search on Google images, Advanced Book Exchange, Good Reads and Barnes & Noble produced a plethora of selections. It was tough to narrow it down to just ten. I could do a whole blog on the good, the bad, and the atrociously ugly covers that I ran across, but here are my “most accomplished” selections. (P.S. It’s ok to judge a book by its cover when that is the main objective.) 

            

#10 (left) Modern Library 1995: Chosen purely because Colin Firth is on the cover. La. This was one of the many variations of covers that sprung up after the A&E/BBC 1995 miniseries Pride and Prejudice. Oh that Mr. Darcy just does it to us every time.  

#9 (right) Marvel Comics 2009: Pride and Prejudice went all graphicy and such on us last year when Marvel Comics produced five editions of P&P in comic format. This is issue number four. It was my favorite of the five: Lizzy walking in the verdure of the English countryside. (she is a bit pear shaped in her straight Regency frock though)  

            

#8 (left) Heritage Classics 2009: I know! Doesn’t this look vintage 1950’s or what? It’s not. I believe it is a knock off of those dime paperbacks romance novels that your sister used to hide from the parental units. I do not like to think that is Darcy manhandling a blonde Lizzy, so I imagine it is Wickham and Georgiana and it works.   

 #7 (right) Harper Teen 2009: Cashing in on the Twilight craze, Harper Collins issued a whole series of classics with new covers of flowers on black backgrounds. It worked. Teens snapped them up at my store, but were a bit miffed when they got to chapter three and realize that there were no vampires or werewolves in it. ;-) The covers where quite beautiful though.  

           

#6 (left) Oxford World Classic 2008: There have been many variants of Regency-era young ladies in white gracing covers of classic literature over the last ten years. I particularly like this one because of the lady’s expression and upward gaze. I imagine it is Elizabeth looking at Darcy after their reunion at Pemberley and she now knows how big his house is. (Just kidding – we all know it was really love that motivated her change of heart – right?)      

#5 (right) Purnell Maidenhead 1976: This cover just makes me smile. It is vintage fare from the 1970’s and reminds me of the Georgette Heyer covers from the same era. The artist did actually capture the “one turned white and one turned red scene” when Elizabeth is introduced to Mr. Wickham in Meyerton and Darcy arrives on horseback. Lizzy does not quite have the correct expression she should at that moment though. Still fun.   

              

#4 (left) White’s Books 2009: This striking graphic image designed by Kazuko Nomoto of Regency-era dancing slippers, Hessian boots, frocks and breeches is elegant and stylish. The couples are facing each other and I assume dancing, but since we do not see above their waists, they could be kissing! Naaagh.      

#3 (right) George Allen 1894: The classic peacock cover designed by illustrator Hugh Thomson still holds up as one of the most elegant and beautifully designed P&P covers of all time over a hundred years after it was first published. I just wish I could afford a copy for my own library. Since they are one of the most highly collectible of vintage Jane Austen editions (except first editions which are really, really to out of my league) they command close to a $1,000 from antiquarian book sellers. Cheers to anyone who bought their copy before 1995. 

                

#2 (left) Pocket 1940: This vintage cover just has it all: splashy peacock in the foreground elegantly displaying his plumage and a scene of Pemberley perhaps with a couple in the background. I enjoy covers with symbolism, color and beautiful design. This one sings for me.      

#1 (right) Macmillan and Co 1895: Another vintage treasure that I can not afford, but shall admire from afar is this regally elegant cover in red with gold embossing. The design really has nothing to do with P&P since it is more Renaissance than Regency, but it is opulent and accomplished and I think even Mr. Darcy would approve.      

So gentle readers, which are your favorite Pride and Prejudice covers? Please leave a comments and I challenge all of you with blogs to post your list. Be sure to voice your opinion decidedly and vote which of my top ten you like the best. 

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Welcome to ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ a Celebration of Jane Austen’s Last Novel

“Sanditon…The finest, purest Sea Breeze on the Coast—acknowledged to be so—Excellent Bathing—fine hard Sand—Deep Water ten yards from the Shore—no Mud—no Weeds—no slimey rocks—Never was there a place more palpably designed by Nature” 

Welcome, to ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’, an in depth look at Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel set in the Sussex seaside village of Sanditon. Included will be a group read and discussion, guest bloggers, and plenty of great giveaways.

Leeches at three. Bring your green parasol!

 Introduction   List of Characters   Reading resources

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for August

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in August, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. 

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange 

Amanda Grange, the best selling author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary continues the story of Pride and Prejudice after the wedding revealing a truly dark secret. Yes, gentle readers, that noble mien and brooding demeanor was all a front to disguise the truth during their courtship, and now on their honeymoon through Europe his new bride Elizabeth will shortly discover that her husband is much more than the proud man she married. Yep, you guessed it! Mr. Darcy is indeed a vampyre. Shocking you say? Quite. (Publisher’s description) Mr. Darcy, Vampyre starts where Pride and Prejudice ends and introduces a dark family curse so perfectly that the result is a delightfully thrilling, spine-chilling, breathtaking read. After reading this dark tale, readers will re-imagine the original Pride and Prejudice and Darcy’s brooding nature and prideful demeanor with new reason – he’s not shy or reserved: he’s a vampire! A dark, poignant and visionary continuation of Austen’s beloved story, this tale is full of danger, darkness and immortal love. Sourcebooks, ISBN: 978-1402236976 

The Plight of the Darcys Brothers, by Marsha Altman (2009)The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys, by Marsha Altman 

For those who enjoyed the gentle rancor and lively pleasantry of Marsha Altman’s humorous first novel The Darcys & the Bingleys, you will be glad to know the story continues with the second installment in the series. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to the Continent in pursuit of family honor and the seducer who deflowered Elizabeth’s sister Mary leaving her in a family way. In addition to Altman’s imaginative and swashbuckling style, readers will be introduced to new foreign Darcy relations, and treated to her signature a duel at dawn. (Publisher’s description) In this lively second installment, the Darcys and Bingleys are plunged into married life and its many accompanying challenges presented by family and friends. With Jane and Elizabeth away, Darcy and Bingley take on the daunting task of managing their two-year- old children. Mary Bennet returns from the Continent pregnant by an Italian student promised to the church; Darcy and Elizabeth travel to find the father, and discover previously unknown—and shocking—Darcy relations. By the time Darcy discovers that there’s more than one sibling of questionable birth in the family, the ever-dastardly Wickham arrives on the scene to try to seize the Darcy fortune once and for all. Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402224294 

James Fairfax (2009)James Fairfax, by Jane Austen and Adam Campan 

If Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did not quell your curiosity of other writers lifting Jane Austen’s text and inserting their own kibbles and bits, then get ready for another literary mash-up. First, remove your tar headed Janeite purist bonnet. Second, imagine a gender bending alternate universe. Third, turn off your gaydar cuz Jane Austen’s characters from Emma are in same sex relationships. This will either be extremely clever, or the Post carriage ride from Highbury to hell. Enuff said. (Publisher’s description) It’s same-sex marriage in Jane Austen’s Regency England! In this stunning, gender-bending, stylish dance-of-manners version of Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel Emma — an alternate Regency where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind — matchmaking Emma Woodhouse tries to find a suitable spouse for her lover Harriet Smith, and is embroiled in the secrets of the relationship between the mysterious and accomplished James Fairfax and the handsome Frank Churchill. Norilana Books, ISBN: 978-1607620389. Read a review on AustenBlog 

Arabella, by Georgette Heyer (2009)Arabella, by Georgette Heyer 

Every month for over a year, Sourcebooks has presented us with a new re-issue of a Georgette Heyer Regency romance classic. After my introduction to Sophy Stanton-Lacy last month in Heyer’s novel The Grand Sophy, it’s hard to imagine that she could produce yet another engaging and unforgettable heroine like her, but Arabella Tallant will both surprise and charm away any doubt that Georgette Heyer is not the most incredibly gifted Regency romance writer ever be placed upon that august pedestal. (Publisher’s description) Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host’s, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments. When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella’s impetuous young brother. Sourcebooks Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402219467 

Biography 

Jane Austen, by Helen Lefroy (1997)Jane Austen, by Helen Lefroy 

A reprint of the 1997 biography of Jane Austen by Helen Lefroy, a cousin four times removed from Jane’s youthful flirtation Tom Lefroy, and vice-chairman of The Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom. This short biography is a basic introduction and a quick read at 128 pages. The cover image is from the 1997 edition. (Publisher’s description) The perfect introduction to one of the most-loved novelists of all time. Jane Austen’s reputation rests on the six novels she wrote in her short life – enduringly popular novels which have become part of the fabric of English life, and which have reached new audiences through recent dramatisations on screen and stage. This book, which draws on her letters, describes Jane’s life in the vicarage at Steventon and later at Bath and Chawton, and her relationships with family and friends – especially her beloved sister, Cassandra, and the engaging Tom Lefroy (who it was rumoured was the love of her life). It also describes the parties and balls in country houses and assembly rooms which she attended and the detail of nineteenth-century life which she so sharply observed and which provided the background to her novels. This book is a pleasure for anyone wanting to understand the life of one of our great novelists. The History Press Ltd, ISBN: 978-0752453187 

Austen’s Oeuvre  

Pride and Prejudice (Pengiun Classics Deluxe Edition) 2009Pride and Prejudice: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition), by Jane Austen 

Do you judge a book by its cover? Penguin Books is hoping you do, doling out the big bucks and commissioning acclaimed fashion illustrator and sculptor Rueben Toledo to transform Lizzie, Darcy &C into “Couture Classics.” These striking silhouettes might look like stick insect runway models strutting to the black and white ball at Netherfield, but they are actually our favorite literary duo appropriately walking away from each other (Darcy stepping on her dress!). I just imagine that Darcy has just given Lizzy the “be not alarmed madame letter” and it all works for me. Get hip Janeites. We can now all be Austen fashionistas and exhibit our superior designer taste on our bedside tables. Now, (pray forgive) if our husbands, boyfriends, significant others or friends were ever in doubt of our obsession, this will certainly seal the deal. In defense, you can remind them that this new edition with the haute couture cover contains Penguin Classics definitive text and an excellent introduction by Tony Tanner that Paris Hilton won’t read, but she might deem useful as a door stop. Penguin Classics, ISBN: 978-0143105428 

Austen’s Contemporaries & Regency era 

Old Morality (Oxford World's Classics) by Sir Walter Scott (2009)Old Mortality (Oxford World’s Classics), by Sir Walter Scott 

“Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!” 14 March 1826 

Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) liked Jane Austen, more than a little. He was one of the first critics to praise her novel Emma when it was published in 1815. A prolific talent, he excelled at writing historical novels in on a grand scale. Old Morality is one of his earlier works in the Waverly series. Written in 1816, Jane Austen could actually have read it before she died the next year. This edition contains an introduction and notes by scholars Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson. (Publisher’s description) Old Mortality, which many consider the finest of Scott’s Waverley novels, is a swift-moving historical romance that places an anachronistically liberal hero against the forces of fanaticism in seventeenth-century Scotland, in the period infamous as the ‘killing time’. Its central character, Henry Morton, joins the rebels in order to fight Scotland’s royalist oppressors, little as he shares the Covenanters’ extreme religious beliefs. He is torn between his love for a royalist’s granddaughter and his loyalty to his downtrodden countrymen. As well as being a tale of divided loyalties, the novel is a crucial document in the cultural history of modern Scotland. Scott, himself a supporter of the union between Scotland and England, was trying to exorcise the violent past of a country uncomfortably coming to terms with its status as part of a modern United Kingdom. This novel is in itself a significant political document, in which Scott can be seen to be attempting to create a new centralist Scottish historiography, which is not the political consensus of his own time, the seventeenth century, or today. Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN: 978-0199555307  

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann 

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