The First Time I Read Pride and Prejudice

The First Time I Read Pride and Prejudice

I first read Pride and Prejudice in my English Literature class in high school. I remember that it was a bit hard to read as it was the first Regency fiction I had read. After several chapters the odd language and style of writing became normal and I fell in love with Mr. Darcy. I had already decided in the first chapter that Elizabeth Bennet was me, partially because my mother had told me that they had almost named me Elizabeth, partially because I was one of four sisters, and partially because my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Bennet completely with one ignoring us and one prone to histrionics and controlling situations.

When Mr. Darcy insulted Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, he insulted me. When Elizabeth ran into Mr. Darcy at Hunsford, I felt surprised and confused when he kept running into her. And after reading the letter Mr. Darcy handed to Elizabeth after that horrible proposal, I cried. Literally, I cried. My heart was broken. Mr. Darcy was not a horrible man completely and Elizabeth had forever lost him! And I cried again.

I gasped and held my breath when Elizabeth and the Gardiners encountered Mr. Darcy at Pemberley. I stayed up reading the next chapter under the covers with a flashlight. I had to know if they finally got together. But then Lydia, that horrible self-centered Lydia ruined it all. I cried. I shut off the flashlight and refused to read any further that night.

Finally, after a day, because the deadline to have read the book was coming up rapidly, I picked up the book that I now hated and continued to read. I did not want to read that Elizabeth had turned into a spinster while still pining for Mr. Darcy. I was stunned when Mr. Darcy set off for London thinking he had to make things right. I have engrossed in the story again. I had to know what happened next. Oh please, let Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth end up together!

My heart was full, I could not stop reading. But when Mr. Darcy visited Longbourn with Mr. Bingley and ignored Elizabeth, I cried. How could he do this? Did he not move mountains for that worthless Lydia and yet he ignores Elizabeth? What was going on?

Thankfully, Elizabeth had moxy and broached the subject to the quiet, proud man next to her. She thanked him for his service to Lydia and therefore her family. Then, Mr. Darcy stated he did it only thinking of her. I had tears running down my face as I smiled so big that my cheeks hurt while I read those amazing lines.

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.”

He still loved her! After all this time, being apart, the scandal of Lydia, her parents and Lydia still behaving the same, he still wanted her! I cried while beaming. That was love, the kind of love I wanted for myself. And that was when I fell completely in love with Mr. Darcy.

And it is probably also the reason I am still unmarried. Mr. Darcy, setting unrealistic expectations for men since 1813.

After reading the ending, I wanted more. But Jane Austen had not written another book with these beautiful characters. I wanted more, but it was not until 2018 that I found out there were Pride and Prejudice variations. Some were sequels, some were brand new ideas with the same characters, some were in modern times and some had fantasy elements thrown in. I had found my more and furthermore, I had found my people.

I will never tire of reading and writing about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. He was and still is, my first love.

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29 Responses to The First Time I Read Pride and Prejudice

    • Aww. I can’t believe not everyone had to read it in high school. What really surprises me though, are the ones that don’t like it and they’ve never read it!

  1. I also first read P&P in a high school English class. And fell in love. I remember helping the boys in the class before a quiz so they would know what was happening in the book. (Stupid me). They should have read it them selves as it would have made them better men. Anyways I also love ready more about this beloved couple and the trials they keep them apart or bring them together that much sooner.

  2. I discovered P&P when PBS played the 1995 version back in 2008 or 2009, I think. My mom watched one of the episodes and didn’t like the “grouchy” guy. I, however, was hooked.

    Welcome to Austen Authors!

    • I can’t remember when I first watched the 1995 version but I fell in love with it immediately. The acting, costumes, settings brought the story to life. And Colin Firth was PERFECT. I usually watched it once a year and re-read P and P once a year too. I even have the making of 1995 P and P too!

  3. Thanks for the post. Welcome to Austen Authors, looking forwrd to more of your posts. I just started learning of P & P about 2-3 years ago. I fell in love wth ODC, realistically flawed but worth loving.

  4. Thank you for sharing your introduction to Jane Austen. I first read P&P in the sixties when I chose it as my Sunday School prize! I absolutely loved it.
    I have since read all her books but P&P is my definite favourite. I watched versions of it but was unimpressed until 1995 when I sat glued to the tv every Sunday for 6 weeks. I absolutely loved every bit of this version and I still watch it every time it’s on tv as well as one of my own copies.
    I also thoroughly enjoyed the 2005 film version which is also watched on a regular basis.
    I always wanted more so can you imagine my delight when I was looking through my book club magazine and found Sharon Lathan’s Two Become One? I read that and realised there were more in the series! I ordered those and typed Pride and Prejudice in the search bar on Amazon and whoosh! This was in 2014 and I haven’t stopped reading since. There are so many wonderful versions by dedicated authors that I struggle to put them down to do necessary chores.
    Thank you to you and other authors who manage to come up with so many ideas without losing the character traits of Darcy and Elizabeth.

  5. Love your post, Bella. I am on my third reading of “Pride and Prejudice’ with my first being when in High School. Did not fall in love with it then. Only until I found my first P&P variation (one of Abigail Reynolds) did I begin to appreciate Austen’s work. I do enjoy it more now than I did originally, but I do find I love a couple of the variations better. (Please don’t throw anything at me. :)) I do love Darcy and Elizabeth, and I definitely cry when reading some of the current variations. Very seldom do I find one I’m so-so about. I definitely enjoyed your “Four Months to Marry”. You surprised me with the ending. He was really a toot. 🙂

  6. I first read P&P in my high school English class as assigned reading. We were blessed with a fabulous teacher and I have always been so grateful for her mentorship. Of the many books that were part of our curriculum, P&P was my favorite and Mrs. G’s as well. I’m certainly not reading Scarlet Letter or Great Gatsby fanfiction.
    Thank you for sharing your stories!

  7. I loved reading this account of your intro to P&P and then finding the JAFF community. We welcome you with open arms and hope you have a delightful time with us. I remember to this day my own feelings as Elizabeth read Darcy’s letter. When she got to the part about Wickham, I nearly dropped my book. I was so stunned and surprised. Thank you for sharing your experience. Blessings on the success of your own variations.

      • I am afraid there are a lot of Lydia’s in the world who would not listen. They would accuse the warnings as just being jealous.

  8. It is odd that after 40 years of teaching many of my former students connect “Pride and Prejudice” to me. I will admit I never taught “Great Expectations” with the same fervor as I did “P&P,” mainly because GE was never one of my favs, but I am certain I showed equal reasons to love many of the other classics and more than a few modern tales. I totally embraced young adult literature when I was in the classroom. However, just today, I received a P&P reference from a former student in my FB feed. I suppose we simply love what we love. Some books stay with a person throughout her lifetime. I first read P&P at age 12. That was 60 years ago.
    Bella, we are so happy to have you among our happy band. Welcome aboard!

  9. Me too. I first read it when the movie with Keira Knightley came out. I was curious then totally in love with it! I love reading the variations too.

  10. Oh the joy of a wonderful book! 🙂

    I had a similar experience while encountering Austen’s novels for the first time as a young lady. By the end I was holding the book close to my heart as a dreamy sigh escaped my lips.

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