Jane Austen, 1813
A soap opera romance. Elizabeth Bennett lives with her mother, father, and 4 sisters in 19th century England. A respectable yet not wealthy family. Dad spends all his time isolated in his study and mom is a nervous needy wreck, caring only to have her 5 daughters well and properly married. Nobody seems to have a job or need of a job, and the sisters are simply waiting for a handsome, “amiable,” and wealthy man to ask their hands in marriage. Their society is mainly concerned with strict gender roles, impeccable manners, beauty, the keeping up of one’s reputation, severe class-consciousness, formal visits and dinners, precise etiquette, neighborhood gossip, traveling by horse and carriage, taking long meanders in the woods, holding fine parasols, writing and receiving scandalous letters, filling one’s dance card at the ball, and women visiting fine manors all over England with the aspiration of becoming the mistress of one.
The saving grace of this novel is the lively, playful, and intelligent narrator, Elizabeth, who speaks her mind freely—sometimes to the dismay of the proud and rich—and reflects deeply on her experiences and judgment of people’s characters. Midway through the book, she is forced to re-examine the characters of two men she has painfully misjudged, and in the process, she begins to change her views of the respectability of her family and the nature of her attraction to these men. The formal, antiquated style of the dialogue and narration takes some getting used to, but once it clicks for the reader, the plot and the pages go by quickly and fluidly.
Now I must read the version with the zombies and ninjas.