Saturday, 1 May 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Who does not love mr Darcy?

I have read Pride and Prejudice many a time and am trying to think why I like it so much. First of all, I suppose that it is the ultimate romance for me. Witty, romantic, with interesting characters - but not sappy. I like the understatment and the irony, but I can also think that the people are interesting- and you can imagine what drives them.

Over the past decade, or maybe the two last decades, there has been no end to Jane Austen themes in books. Even though Pride and Prejudice in many ways is a Cinderella tale, and therefore a classic that Jane Austen did not invent, I think it is the dramatisations that have contributed to this.

There are two BBC series made, 1980 and 1995. While I like the first one, it is the 1995 version that I find superior, and also most true of the book in the way it is understated. (Apart from the water scenes, both the bath scene and the jump in the lake scene just annoy me) (And, especially the latter goes so against the character of mr Darcy as I know it) I think it is the actors, and the chemistry between them. Ever since Colin Firth gave his first smouldering look to Jennifer Ehle, I have been in love with mr Darcy. When I think of Colin Firth, I hear the soundtrack in my mind (love the soundtrack) and I have to say that together with some chocolate, Pride and Prejudice means a great rainy day. (Honestly, it does not even have to rain..)

Unfortunately, I feel that too many of the Austenia variety do not come up to scratch. Austenland comes to mind, which I did not like much. Ok read, with a giggle or two, but nothing I would read again. The plot felt too contrived, I did not like the characters and overall, I think Jane would have felt rather taken for a ride.

Bridget Jones is initally a less obvious variation of Pride and Prejudice, as the alcohol and calory counting Bridget does not have the personality of Lizzie at all. But, a problematic mother that runs away with a conman and most importantly, Mark Darcy himself give it away. I did not like the film as much as I thought I would, too hysterical and the friends that I like in the book being just too bleak, but the fact that Mark Darcy is played by Colin Firth was a nice twist in deed. The books, I like. And yes, I have laughed loud while reading BJ. A lot.

My favourite P & P is Lions and Liquorice, or Vanity and Vexation in the US, by Kate Fenton. You know all along that it is a P&P plot, funnily enough, on a P&P film set, but there are twists and turns that keep you interested. And I really like Kate Fenton´s writing. Her irony and eye of the obscure in everyday life suit my humour and I have re-read Lions and Liquorice many a time. So, if you aren´t going to read the real thing, this would be my runner-up.