First Pages: Pride and Prejudice
I know that Pride and Prejudice is technically not a children's book. But it should be considered early YA. Here's why. It's not only a classic, but it also features young characters who are in their late teens. There you have it--a YA book set in the 1800s.
I enjoyed dissecting first lines in honor of National Novel Writing Month and decided to forge on ahead to feature first lines on the first of the month. So, why Pride and Prejudice?
Admittedly, it has a great first line. And I may be thinking about it as I'm still swooning over my board book copy of P&P that has paper engineering. Yes, I have two copies of P&P board books. Maybe three.
Here's the thing. I first read P&P when I was eight years old. Eight. I think I was reading next to my mommy. We used to read together. She'd sit on her bed, one hand on her tummy, and I'd race to my room to grab my own book and join her. What was meant to be a quiet time for her became snuggle time for me. And I'd place my hand on her tummy instead.
Huh. This is EXACTLY what Little Lion does to me when I'm reading. Minus the hand on the tummy but she is obsessed with my belly and always has been. (Because it's the 'squishiest'. Sigh. I know it's squishy. My belly was ginormous with Macy and then I had Little Lion right after....and I have all this excess skin from all the excess amniotic fluid with Macy. I still need to exercise and work it out, but I likely also need to have all my abdomen muscles surgically corrected at some point.)
Back to P&P: I doubt I fully understood P&P at age eight. Mini Me read it last year when she was ten. And though we've had discussions about the etiquette and rules of that time, she still didn't understand why marriage was the only solution for the Bennett girls. Which I'm glad about. My eldest is a feminist in every sense of the word. And she won't stand for any social injustice.
I re-read P&P as a sophomore in high school.. My English teacher at the time, Mrs. S, would read aloud favorite sections to our class. I was enchanted. It's possible that it was only me, but I remember all eyes on Mrs. S as we sat rapt with each word and her discussion of why the novel is important. And I got it. That was the first time I fell in love with Jane Austen's work.
P&P: The First Lines
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
These lines are well-known, of course. And for good reason. I think one has to imagine Jane Austen writing this novel while hiding the pages under 'correspondence'. And smirking to herself, surely.
But here's the thing: Austen lived over two hundred years ago and she was writing about 'modern' times with Pride and Prejudice. And though I've now read this novel too many times to count, I still can't help but admire the tone she sets immediately. It's very tongue-in-cheek. And I suspect that Ms. Austen was quite witty, perhaps similar to her very own heroine, Elizabeth Bennett.
Austen next delves right into the banter between Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Bennett and the reader can see exactly what each of their personalities are like right away. Immediate characterization through dialogue and reactions.
I'm immediately drawn in and have been time and again. I know my sister would groan if I asked her to read this novel. But I still think it's a must-read at least once in a lifetime.
And I still think it's a YA classic, in a sense, ahead of its time. Much like the author.
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
Do you have a book that you re-read often? Which book is it? And why do you re-read it?