"Obstinate Headstrong Girl." There is no greater compliment you can give me. Elizabeth Bennet has been my role model since the first time I read Pride and Prejudice as a teenager. She stands up for herself and isn't afraid to break society's rules.
Many consider Jane Austen the original ‘chick lit ‘writer because all her books end with Happy Ever After. And yes, Pride and Prejudice is the most fairy tale of all - handsome, wealthy man meets beautiful, poor maiden. But they're so much more.
Reading now through older eyes I see what a precarious financial situation The Bennet Sisters were in; at the mercy of their menfolk and marrying well was their only option. It makes me realize how courageous Elizabeth was for holding out for love. This is why so many modern day retellings of P & P don't work. These days women aren't going to starve in the hedgerows if they don't marry.
Our girl Lizzy doesn't dwell on this. She trusts her judgment, keeps a sense of humor, and gets on with her life. At its heart it's just great storytelling. There's a reason why it's considered a Classic.
My latest reading was part of a online group Chapter a Day Readalong. Great way to slow down and savor the story. Because of that I splurged on this beautiful annotated edition. Annotations are great way to learn more about what you are reading but they can distract you from the story. For pure delight of reading chose from the many Editions available in all sorts of price ranges. Or stop by your Library and check out a copy. This clothbound hardback is another I recently add to my Forever Shelf. Yes, I have multiple copies. It's a collection not an obsession.
For the most part everyone in Readalong had read P & P multiple times. What keeps us coming back? It's the ultimate comfort read. In fact during and after World War 1 Austen's books were prescribed reading for soldiers because of their soothing effect. The term Janeite (used for fans of Austen) comes from a Rudyard Kipling short story. It's about a group of WW1 veterans who come together to read Austen.
Right now the world is crazy. It's the perfect time for the quiet comfort of Pride and Prejudice.
Annie Earley is an avid reader, Jane Austen enthusiast, master gardener, and yoga student. She is a writer of lifestyle columns and book reviews for the Progress.