Deb Joanne’s Not Proud, but maybe a little Prejudiced

This is going to be embarrassing.

This is a photo of the four remaining books from my original Narnia boxed set. I bought a new set as an adult, but still cherish these books. Just a bit of nostalgia...

Let me start by saying I’m not one to pretend I enjoyed a book when I didn’t. It’s more my style to sit back and say nothing, or maybe divert attention away from my dislike (or, more likely: indifference), by saying I liked something else better. Like when people gush about Harry Potter, I say that I really enjoyed C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia better.  Maybe it’s because I was a child when I first read Lewis’s books, and perhaps as a slightly jaded adult, I just couldn’t appreciate the HP books the way they were meant to be appreciated. But I’m not dumping on anyone else’s love for the books; they’re just not for me. And I’m usually okay with that—some books just aren’t for me.

But there is one book that I’ve never managed to get through, despite several attempts and that guilty feeling that I should read it. I’ve been so convinced I need to read it, that I recently discovered I own three copies of it. So that’s three times I have tried (and failed) to read Pride and Prejudice. It’s become my literary arch nemesis. And I’ll tell you why I don’t like it, and this is where it gets embarrassing. I don’t get it. Pure and simple, the language in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is too hard for me. Now, I’m no simpleton and I did manage to get a degree and do hold a job where it’s necessary that I do a certain amount of reading and writing, and I even convinced the fine people at Bloomsbury to publish my book, so it’s not that I’m illiterate. But I just feel like I’m working too hard when I pick up P&P. I’m sure any teachers out there are cringing and throwing tomatoes at the screen when I say that I keep putting the book down because it’s too much work, but I do. Not only do I feel like I’m only getting about 70% of the story (and the humor, because I’m pretty sure a lot of the book is quite funny—I think) but when I read it, I feel stupid for not getting it. I’m guessing this is why a lot of kids stop reading and where it’s important that we encourage them to pick up the books that are right for them. The ones that will engage them and make them feel smart and want to read more. Like when I was in high school, I realized the right books for me were the V.C. Andrews books (remember the scandalous FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC?) and weird sci-fi books, like John Wyndham’s THE TROUBLE WITH LICHEN and THE CHRYSALIDS, not P&P or other ‘classics’ that seemed too hard and weren’t enjoyable.

I got my fill of unenjoyable classics in the classroom and that was enough for me. I read to be entertained and, similarly, I write to entertain others. I’ll never win a Pulitzer for writing about tween girls who are obsessed with kissing boys and filling out their bras, but hopefully, I can entertain some people. And that’s what it’s all about for me. So it’s okay if some books aren’t for you. No book will please everyone all of the time. And not everyone is made to write ‘important’ books or future classics. But that’s okay—it means we have so many to choose from and will never run out of books to read in our lifetimes. And that’s a very good thing, don’t you think?

I know lots of people love P&P, but let’s hear from our faithful readers—what’s your take? Or, feel free to weigh in on any of the movie versions. I’ve seen the 1995 miniseries with Colin Firth and enjoyed it quite a bit. I seem to remember something about a scene in the lake…


26 Replies to “Deb Joanne’s Not Proud, but maybe a little Prejudiced”

  1. Good morning you brave soul. I feel the same way about Wuthering Heights. Never felt the passion. My favorite classic is A Tale of Two Cities. Hands down. I’ll also admit that much “literary fiction” simply floats past me in an erudite fog. Kim

    1. I’ve never made it through Wuthering Heights either, so I’m with you there. And most literary fiction makes it by me, too. Maybe I’m lazy, but I like easy, entertaining books. Thanks for your ‘confession’, Kim!

  2. Pssst…don’t tell anyone, but I’m not a huge Austen fan, either. I like her in theory, but never manage to get very far into one of her books before I find a reason to put it down. I know! Bad, bad me.

  3. I was very much the same way until I listened to P&P instead of reading it. I don’t think I was more than a few lines in before I started cracking up, and I’d never gotten the humor before. Sometimes it’s just easier to have a narrator do the heavy lifting for you. It’s one of the reasons I’m a huge advocate of seeing, rather than reading, Shakespeare.

    Also, Colin Firth. Mmmm.

    1. That makes a lot of sense, Eleanor. I tried audio books with ones I’d already read, and found I definitely got something different out of them when hearing them. But I never thought of revisiting classics this way; something to consider for my next long train trip. Thanks for the tip!

      1. Have you seen the Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle version? Because it is WONDERFUL. I had to watch the movie before I could get through the book, but once I did, I loved it.

  4. Yay Joanne, for kicking this week off right! I have never read P & P so I’m out on this one.

    I love your diversion tactic–I think I’m going to try that…

    This week’s theme has a lot of potential to get things off our reader’s chests so I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s “confessions”…

    1. I love that I’ve opened the confessional! This week’s going to be fun. And thanks for admitting you’ve never read it, either.

  5. Hi Joanne!

    I love that you wrote this! I LOVE the movies – I own the Keira Knightley one and the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth and have watched them over and over. But I also have not been able to make it through the book. All this time I thought I was the only one 🙂

    1. Sarah! Great to see you here. We’re all about the supportive honesty around here, so thanks for joining in and admitting you’ve never made it through. Wow, I wonder how many more of us are out there!

  6. I do think there is something to SEEING it versus reading it, at least at first. With most books (Harry Potter for example) I say read the book before seeing the movie. But when it comes to books with hard language, like P&P or Shakespeare, seeing it first can make a huge difference–you already know the storyline, you know who is the funny character, who is the villain. It takes a bit of work out of it and makes it easier to catch and appreciate that small things.

    I loved the recent P&P (with Keira Knightly) especially because I suddenly realized how funny the Bennett parents are. Donald Sutherland was brilliant.

  7. I actually started Pride and Prejudice years ago preparing not to like it. I thought the writing would be too dense, and it would be too much of a, well “classic” for me to really enjoy. But I wanted to give it a shot Instead, I finished it in a couple days. Then I read it again. And it spurred my interest (obsession) with the Regency era. So I guess it’s just a “to each their own” thing!

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