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Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen
Read by Irene Sutcliffe

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Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen
Read by Irene Sutcliffe
ISBN: 1-57270-055-6
The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.
Cover to Cover Classics, A Complete and Unabridged Audio Recording - 8 cassettes.
Genre: Literature - Classics
Other Available Editions: Large Print | Paperback | Hardcover | Audio Cassette (Abridged) | Audio CD (Abridged)

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - May 14, 2001

Mr. Bennet has the misfortunate of having five daughters and no sons. Worse, his estate is entailed to his closest male relative, so it is doubly important that his daughters all make good marriages. Pride and Prejudice is a delightful tale that centers around the loves and hopes of the Bennet girls, and their mother's various schemes to get them all good (i.e., rich) husbands.

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1775-1817), has created an eclectic cast of characters, who marvelously bring English country society to life. This is, at its essence, a novel of manners. Austen includes the local gossip, social customs, and morals of rural England in the 19th century. She also highlights the pettiness that often accompanied the day to day life in a society in which manners, one's social standing, and ones duty, meant everything.

This novel has many interwoven subplots, however the main story focuses upon the characters of Jane and Elizabeth, the eldest Miss Bennets, and their corresponding protagonists, Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Jane and Bingley are instantly attracted to each upon first meeting, but their attachment is sabotaged by Darcy's arrogance. Darcy thinks that the reserved Jane is merely a fortune hunter and that she has no real feelings for Bingley. On Bingley's part, he overly relies upon Darcy and meekly accepts his pronouncements. In much the same manner, Elizabeth and Darcy become almost instant enemies as soon as they meet. Each values their pride so highly that they cannot overcome their preconceived prejudices toward social standing. Their pride leads them to a series of misunderstandings that takes the entire novel to unravel.

The problems associated with making impromptu judgements is a recurring theme throughout this novel. Time and time again the characters make instant judgements as to the character of others, based solely upon a single meeting or from snipets of inoportunly overheard conversations. For example, Elizabeth initially views Darcy as a snob because he is aloof and quiet, while she views George Wickham as a gentleman because he is personable and has "happy manners." She learns her mistakes as the story unfolds. Darcy is the true gentleman, while Wickham is in truth a despicable rouge. This fact he is brutally proven when he runs off with Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet daughters. By the end of the story, Elizabeth and Darcy find that they are more alike than either one might wish to admit. It is not giving anything away to say that the story ends with happy endings all around.

Pride and Prejudice was written in a narrative style, which makes this book uniquely suited for being read aloud. The choice of Irene Sutcliffe as narrator was a stroke of genius. Sutcliffe is an English actress and her voice admirably suits this work. As well, she gives each character a different voice, which captures their individual idiosyncracies. While listening to this tape, it almost seemed as if more than one person was doing the reading. All in all, Sutcliffe's voice added a wonderful touch to an already wonderful story.

Related Reviews:

There are many audio versions of this book available, both abridged and unabridged. I would advise against listening to any of the abridged versions as this is a book that loses much when not heard (or read) in the fullness in which it was intended. Of the unabridged versions, I'd recommend the Audio Partners version read by Irene Sutcliffe. This is the above reviewed version, and it is excellent. In addition to the audio versions, Pride and Prejudice is available in a variety of print formats, including: