not to be too Austen-tatious…

but novels make me completely, and perfectly, and incandescently happy!

Finally (!) after having it on my to-read list for months, years even (!) I have finally read Pride and Prejudice. It was as incredible as I always knew it would be and I don’t know why it took me so long to finally buy a copy!

I loved the setting, Regency England is one of my favourite periods in English history, the glitz and the glamour of the culture of high society is caught so beautifully by Austen with her vivid descriptions of beautiful houses, beautiful dresses, beautiful people and their beautiful lives. The description of Pemberley are some of my favourites and one can imagine the beauty of it simply from the words of wonder Austen weaves into the narrative

However, whilst the setting and the descriptions are excellent, it is the characters that make Pride and Prejudice such a brilliant novel! The Bennett sisters are all wonderful and, to be perfectly candid, I would struggle to pick a favourite if Elizabeth didn’t soar above so far. Out of the others, a favourite is near impossible because I love them all for their own characters which are all very different. For whilst I love Jane for her solid, steadfast and kindly nature, I also love Lydia for her demeanour which could be called the exact opposite. Mary and her constant feeling of inadequacy covered by bluster and over-confidence struck a cord with me as did Kitty’s constant comparison to Lydia and her constantly being dragged into trouble by the younger sister.

But Elizabeth, Elizabeth Bennett, with her witty turns of phrase and no-nonsense attitude is by far my favourite sister. Her slightly more cynical view of marriage and society coupled with her fierce loyalty, her witticisms and her passionate love for Darcy make her a truly brilliant woman and a wonderful character. She is a strong, independent woman capable of making her own informed, intelligent decisions that is still an excellent role model to young girls.

And Darcy, the hero of our novel, the classically handsome, witty, loyal, kind-hearted, proud, dismissive, oxymoronic Mr Darcy. I loved him, I loved the way he was presented to begin with and how Austen slowly reveals more about him throughout the novel until, like Elizabeth, the reader realises that they had completely misjudged him. This is shown through his change from proud and dismissive man he appears to be at the ball at Netherfield to the kind-hearted, loyal man he is shown to be in the latter part of the novel. A large part of this is shown through his loyalty to his close friend Bingley and how he wishes to help him even though the actions he takes are not necessarily for the best. This makes him feel so much more real because he isn’t perfect and he does make mistakes. But the main thing that made me love Darcy are the scenes in which he talks about or to his younger sister. The clear devotion in everything he says and his utter adoration for her wee what made me see him for the loving, kind-hearted man he is shown to be in the latter parts of the novel.

And the relationship between the two of them is also excellent. I love the way their relationship develops throughout the novel and I love that it is never at the expense of her character. Elizabeth is still the same fiery, antagonistic, independent woman that she begins the novel as. This was uncommon in Regency era literature where most of the women in novels were Janes rather than Elizabeths but that is why Pride and Prejudice has stood the test of time and why it is still as enjoyable now as it was when it was written.

Their relationship is built on them being equal intellectually and morally, if not socially. The equal nature of their characters makes this an excellent portrayal of what a relationship should be like, especially towards the end of the novel. Their teasing, sweet, loyal, loving relationship is honestly wonderful and will lead to a happy mariage. As Elizabeth states towards the end of the novel, she is “happier even than Jane, she only smiles, I laugh“.

 

secondhand treasures

I am a fan of secondhand anything, I love hunting charity shops and vintage stores for hidden gems. I love that everything you buy has a story already and that you are just adding to an already rich history. This is why one of my favourite things to buy secondhand are books. I love finding secondhand books where someone has scrawled notes on the edges of the pages. I love secondhand books with turned over corners and cracked spines. Splodges of ink and passages underlined. I love seeing the parts that other people loved – or didn’t. I just think that there is something sort of magical about old books with stories upon stories.

Because in a way, you get two. You get the story of the actual book you’re reading but then you also get the story of the previous owner, you get to see how well-loved the book was and how many times they read it. You can see if they felt the same way about the characters as you do, even 20, 30, 50 years apart.

I also love secondhand books because who wouldn’t love to be able to buy a hardback copy of Pride and Prejudice for £1.50? It’s a wonderful way of doing it and if you don’t buy secondhand, then please give it a go!

Here are some of the gems I have found:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – £1.50

Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare – £1.50

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas – £1.00

Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare (annotated)£1.00

The Importance of being Earnest and other plays by Oscar Wilde – 50p

 

Secondhand books are cheap and they’re beautiful. I know that some people prefer buying things new but honestly, buying things secondhand, be it books or clothes or anything not only helps you because the price is so much lower than it would ever be to buy it brand new but it so often also helps other people. Charity shops use the money they get to help others so please, just, give them a chance. You might find something amazing!

Let me know what book bargains you’ve got from buying secondhand in the comments!