To anyone in the book industry, April 23rd 2012 will be remembered as World Book Night and the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death. For me, it will be known as the day that I finally finished a Jane Austen. Quite appropriately, it was Pride and Prejudice – one of twenty-five books that were given away to celebrate World Book Night.
I have always struggled with Jane Austen and despite disbelief from a number of female friends, I’ve somehow managed to remain ignorant to the plot of Pride and Prejudice – never having watched the infamous BBC serialisation that made Colin Firth into a national heart-throb. Having attempted a number of Jane Austen’s novels in recent years, including Emma while at university and Persuasion more recently, I decided to ask around my friends and fellow readers, and Pride and Prejudice was the unanimous recommendation I was given.
And so I began, determined to overcome the lexical density of Austen’s that I had always struggled with. Following the advice of my English teacher at college, I read for a full hour so as to fully engage with both the plot and the writing. However, after my first sitting, I was soon reluctant to continue, and found myself putting off reading on a number of occasions where, had I been reading a different book I would have been more than happy to indulge my inner bookworm. After over a week of having done no reading whatsoever – quite a rarity for me – I had a free evening and so back to Pride and Prejudice I returned, determined to make a decent-sized dent in the book.
I soon became swept away by the plot and, much to my surprise, and indeed relief, I began to thoroughly enjoy Austen’s most loved book. I finished Pride and Prejudice feeling a great sense of achievement, both in terms of the union of Lizzie and William Darcy finally coming into fruition, and in having finally finished the novel of an author who I had never previously been able to.
It felt very appropriate to finish Pride and Prejudice on World Book Night, a day in which people like myself encourage others to discover the joy of reading.