Earlier this week, I finished what has become an annual re-reading of the classic, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Two years ago, I decided that re-reading this book, which has since become my favorite book of all time, would be something I could do that I could look forward to. Although I read the book for the first time in the summer of 2013 (in the midst of my son’s bone marrow transplant), September seems to have become my month to revisit Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
I’ve never been much for classics, and have painful memories of being forced to read some versions of a handful of what may technically be called classics in school. But, thanks to K.M. Weiland’s inspiration (who has been working her way through classics for many years, alphabetically by author), I’ve been slowly putting my toe in the water and trying a few classics here and there.
But P&P has captivated me like no other. I’m sure a lot of people can say the same thing. But for me as a writer, revisiting the book is something I love to do because I pick up on something new each time I read it. The first time, in 2013, when I read it, what surprised me most was how true to the book my favorite movie adaptation really was. While the book is still better, the movie is nice when I’ve got 6 months to go until I will allow myself to reread this beloved book and just want to immerse myself in the story for a couple of hours.
Last year, while the movie was still heavily in my head–seriously, I see and hear Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadden, and, ironically, Jenna Coleman when I read it–I picked up on more of the nuances of the story.
This year, my reread was a bit more drawn out, as I’ve been busy and I haven’t been able to spend as much time reading as I’d have liked. But thanks to several articles I’ve read over the last several months about the time period and about the background of Austen really enriched the story in ways hard to put into words. Articles that discussed what life was really like for women of a certain background around the beginning of the 19th Century, how characters would be characterized in today’s culture (one article I read characterized Lydia Bennet Wickham as a ‘sex kitten’. That sure puts things in perspective!) But armed with this new information and understanding about life in the early 1800s in rural England really added so much depth and color to this most recent rereading that I find myself thinking more now about Elizabeth and Darcy than in years past.
It really is such a rich and pleasurable story. And even though there are certain things that I think Austen could have benefited from, things we know now as writers, I honestly can’t think of much I’d change about this book.
In my humble opinion, that’s the mark of a true classic.
Question for you: Do you have a favorite book you love so much you reread it (other than the Bible)? What is it? How many times have you read it?