As it is the week of our national day of thanks, I determined that a review of tomes for which I am most thankful would be a most felicitous duty. Under such joyful conditions, I find my mind, nay my mind and heart, turn with instinctive abandon to the powerful, un-Zombiefied (oh, what horrors! I shudder, gentle reader, I shudder) words of our dear Miss Austen in Pride and Prejudice.
In other words, I cannot believe I haven’t previously written about Pride and Prejudice as it is one of my favorite books.
How can it not be? Isn’t it a touchstone for generations, centuries even? The plucky, courageous Elizabeth Bennet? The darkly brooding, irresistible-in-love Fitzwilliam Darcy? That Pemberly Estate!?! Reams have been written about Pride and Prejudice, over it, under it, around it. Nearly a dozen feature films adaptations, although the one that counts is the one with Colin Firth (IMHO). And countless, literally countless, knock-offs and/or tributes in print and in film.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must in want of a wife.
Perhaps that opening line, one of the best in literature, captures the reader immediately with its’ humor, and perhaps, ironic truth.
Maybe it’s the scene where Darcy and Elizabeth meet that captures our hearts.
Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged, by the scarcity of gentlemen, to sit down for two dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes, to press his friend to join it.
‘Come, Darcy,’ said he, ‘I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.’
‘I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room, whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with.’
. . .’There is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I daresay very agreeable.’ . . .
‘Which do you mean?’ and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, ‘She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. . . .
Ah, ha ha! That charmer! Perhaps it is that ultimately, Mr. Darcy must
admit and recant his own pride, allowing Elizabeth the ultimate comeuppance.
Pride and Prejudice has been the subject of our book club at least once and is due for a re-reading. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, add it to your 2016 selections. And if you’ve already read it, everyone needs to re-read a great book once in a while.
I’ve scoured the pages for food references. Emma has the Box Hill picnic scene, of course, but though I can find multiple references to dining opportunities in Pride and Prejudice, I find only references to coffee and porridge in the pages of Pride and Prejudice and haven’t found the first reference to what was being dined upon during the multiple dinners.
The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the servants, and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at the bottom of the table, by her ladyship’s desire, and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater. – He carved, and ate, and praised with delighted alacrity; and every dish was commended, first by him, and then by Sir William, who was not enough recovered to echo whatever his son-in-law said, and in a matter which Elizabeth wondered Lady Catherine could hear.
But never fear Gentle Reader! The popularity of Jane Austen comes to our assistance with multiple website devoted to the times of Miss Austen, the food, the clothing, the dances, the music. Here are links, with recipes:
The easiest way to go would be the soundtrack of Pride and Prejudice, any of the film versions. Or perhaps all of them.
My ultimate Mr. Darcy is Colin Firth. <sigh> But if we are recasting: Benedict Cumberbatch.
Elizabeth Bennet: I think Emma Watson would be a good casting now.
Mr. Bingley: Eddie Redmayne
Jane Bennet: Felicity Jones
Mrs. Bennet: Emma Thompson
That’s all I’ve got! Thanks for reading! Check back tomorrow for another book for which I’m thankful!