Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: Audio Book Review & Link Up

2014 Jane Austen Challenge

Title: Pride & Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen (Reader: Josephine Bailey)
Publisher: Tantor Media
Publication Date: August 2008
Length: 11 hr 20min ( 279 pages)
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Audio
Reason for Discovery: 2014 Jane Austen Challenge

From GoodReads:

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

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners--one of the most popular novels of all time--that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.  
I believe that the plot to Pride & Prejudice is universally known, but I will give a quick synopsis. Elizabeth Bennett is an opinionated young woman who takes offense by the proud Mr. Darcy. The two do battle via witty quips and fall in love. Meanwhile, Elizabeth's sisters, Jane and Lydia, and Elizabeth's friend, Charlotte, all try to find their own form of happiness. (Spoiler Alert: Some do better than others.)

Because this is an old story, there will be spoilers! 

Before I even talk about the book, I need to say that I enjoyed Pride & Prejudice much more than I enjoyed Sense & Sensibility. I think this is because I did the audio book this time around and the characters were feistier. It was easier to figure out the tone and inflection of the dialogue with the reader. Also, Elizabeth (and the other characters) were more active. 

Okay, on to the story! I read Pride & Prejudice back in high school (about 15 years ago now). I remember enjoying it but not loving it. I think it is because I didn't really understand everything that was going on (I did not remember the sad epilogue to Lydia's happily ever after at all). Also, I think that I didn't really relate to the characters or their struggles. Now that I am older and have dated enough to know a few Darcy's, Wickham's and Collins', the story feels more familiar and comfortable to me. Although I thought both Elizabeth and Darcy acted the fool many times, I understood why they did what they did. When I read the book the first time around, I missed Darcy's exposition on why he did what he did. This time, I saw his arc and appreciated him more for it. In other words, I didn't feel he was such a jerk. Now I like his gruffness. I get the fangirl-ness to the book. 

I know a Pride & Prejudice review should be all about Elizabeth and Darcy, but I must admit that the characters that captured my heart were the secondary ones. Charlotte Lucas takes one for the team by marrying Mr. Collins. She went into that marriage knowing that life was going to be hard, but she married him to lessen the burden on her family. She deserves a medal. Jane is another tricky one. Jane might be a bit conservative but overall, she is trying to be the good girl while spending time with Mr. Bingley. The young lady isn't even trying to play hard to get, she just wants to be proper. Unfortunately, Darcy takes that propriety for lack of interest. You would think that he would applaud her for her conservative nature. Of course, I do understand why he didn't feel that way. I am happy that everything worked out so well for Jane, but I hope that Mr. Bingley started making a few decisions for himself.  

If we are going to talk about secondary characters, we cannot ignore the two most interesting secondary characters of them all: Wickham and Lydia. Wickham is simply awful. Unlike Willoughby who did kind of like Marianne in Sense & Sensibility, Wickham purposefully picks out girls to date for their money and to annoy Darcy. I cannot imagine what was going on in his head when he set himself on Lydia. Of course, now we need to talk about Lydia. Yes, Lydia is quite ridiculous, and she makes lots of bad decisions; however, I still feel bad that she had to marry Wickham. I really don't know how Jane and Elizabeth grew up so level headed. Lydia really was a product of her family environment. She had no idea that Wickham was such a fiend. Although I know that Wickham and Lydia could never have a happily ever after, I was saddened to read that their life together was so miserable. I must note that I like Lydia's ending in The Lizzie Bennett Diaries much more. Yes, this ending could not have been done in the original text, but I was happy to see that Lydia learns from her mistakes and becomes a better person.

Audio: I thought that the audiobook was great. The narration was clear and crisp. The narrator did a good job with the voices, tone, and inflection. If I reread this book, I will definitely stick with the audiobook.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found this book much easier to read than Sense & Sensibility. I can see why this is considered Austen at her best.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.


Next up is Mansfield Park! I will provide some information about the book on May 30, and I will post my review and the link up on June 30th. 

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