Prompted by a “suggested reading list” brought home from school on the last day of term, I embarked on a multi-media immersion in the works of Jane Austen this summer, which in turn led me to read/re-read some of the books inspired by her characters.
I read Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion; listened to Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey on Audible and watched every TV/movie adaptation I could get my hands on!
Up until now I have mostly read books by contemporary writers, and have found old “classic” books a bit of a chore to read. I was delighted to find that these books were incredibly enjoyable to read due to the witty dialogue and steady flow of events; and the details on the fashions and etiquette of the time, far from being tedious, made the setting and feel of the books so perfect that I did not want to leave the world. I loved the comedy characters such as Mrs Jennings and Mr Collins whose scenes were amongst the most entertaining and memorable. I liked different characters for different reasons – I think that the witty heroines and obsequious clergymen each had their own merit and were brilliantly brought to life. Similarly, I can’t think of any of the books as a favourite as they each had unique qualities and standout scenes and I know that I am likely to re-read each of these novels.
Finally, I was inspired to read Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James, which is set approximately six years after Pride and Prejudice and loved the way that a modern writer could replicate the charm of Austen’s world, but add the new (and seemingly mis-matching) layer of a murder mystery. The characters of Elizabeth and Darcy reacted in exactly the way I would have expected them to, and this made the book a hugely enjoyable sequel. I also re-read Lydia – The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice by Natasha Farrant which I enjoyed just as much second time as when I reviewed it here. I am now hoping that when my mum finishes Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield, she’ll allow me to read it too!