I didn't read it until I was an adult. I was probably supposed to read it in high school, but managed to skip by using Cliffs Notes. I wish I had. Perhaps as most things back then, I doubt if I could have absorbed it as completely as I do now.
My favourite book of all time is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
I read it every year and it has yet to lose its charm for me.
I still adore Elizabeth Bennet now after reading about her dozens of times as I did the first time I read the book.
Mr Darcy still manages to surprise me, transforming from haughty self-absorbed upper class in the first chapters to an ultimate dream of a man, charming, principled and of course, rich.
Elizabeth's trials inflicted by her impossible family and that scoundrel Whickham seem that they have spoiled any chance she may have had for marrying well, until . . . . well, it gets me every time.
I love the way that the class structure plays a part throughout the book. Having to work for a living or "being in trade" seems to make one lower down on the social scale than the idle landed gentry. The wealthy gentlemen and wives and daughters of these gentlemen are entirely concerned with guiding their lives within their own sphere or station in life.
Women have no role other than to secure a husband. The gender injustices would have driven any modern woman nuts! All their education until that happens is guided towards becoming an entertaining, creative and sensible homemaker. Rules of conduct seem to be quite restrictive for this class of people in this particular point in history. It is fascinating to see how the author weaves her little morality tale to underscore the rules. The clever but reserved girl wins the best husband. The wild, frivolous girl gets the scoundrel or rather the scoundrel is made to marry the silliest sister.
Bye the bye, the latest film version of P & P wasn't what I had hoped. Longbourne (the Bennet family home) isn't that muddy. Dame Judy Dench was as ever, flawless as Lady Catherine but over all, there was a lack of depth. The BBC version with Colin Firth as Darcy has yet to be topped. I would happily waste an entire snowy weekend watching all six hours of it!
I'm just at the point where Lydia has run off and Elizabeth is reading about it in two letters she has received from Jane. I must go and see how it all turns out. This may ruin any chance Elizabeth and Jane may have had to secure good matches for themselves because "Who would seek a connection with such a family?"