Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters are under pressure from their crazy mother, and society in general, to find husbands. Elizabeth and her older sister Jane are sensible enough, but the three youngest are a bit idiotic. Marriage is basically the main ambition in their lives, outside of a bit of socializing, reading, and cards.
Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want spoilers.
Near the beginning we’re introduced to a few potential suitors, one of whom is Mr. Darcy – a man who appears to be uptight, rude, and too full of pride. Over the course of the novel, Elizabeth begins to hate Mr. Darcy more and more as information against him is brought to her attention. At the peak of her disgust with him, she learns he’s not the man she thought he was; he’s actually gallant and friendly and goes out of his way to help others without credit. This is awesome, because he’s also rich! They live happily ever after. Do we have Mr. Darcy to blame for the societal shift towards women wanting to date assholes and hoping for a heart of gold?
I really enjoyed the writing and the humour, and the characters felt very distinct and vivid. The setting and period are interesting, as was the peek into the class issues and intricate manners of the time, but it often felt like I was stuck in a dull conversation in the middle of a lively party. I felt a kinship with Mr. Bennet and his feeling that his daughters, and everything to do with their finding husbands, was silly. I wanted to sit with him in his library for a while and let them sort out this nonsense themselves. It just felt like so much could be happening and it just wasn’t. The drama with the insipid younger sibling Lydia near the end, and how that tied in with the main budding romance, was good, but it took a bit too long to get there for me.
To be honest, Jane Austin probably wouldn’t have been at the top of my list when looking for what to read next, but I needed a romance novel for the Back To The Classics Challenge. I also really dig Downton Abbey, so I thought this might be right up my alley. Kate Reading did a fantastic job narrating, and her Elizabeth voice was remarkably similar to Mary’s voice on Downton, which worked quite well for me. I had no idea how much this book inspired the show. All I knew coming in was that Colin Firth had apparently played Mr. Darcy in the 90s and he got his shirt all wet and people liked that.
I was a bit torn with this one. I’m glad I read it, but I have to admit I can see why someone might find this improved with the addition of zombies.