I just finished reading the final page of "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen and sadly closed my beloved copy of her book. As always after enjoying the company provided by an excellently written book, I know I will miss the entertainment it has provided me. In lieu of applauding the book in my own words, I offer you the first paragraph of its preface written by Frank Swinnerton:
"It is probable that no English novel written in the last hundred and fifty years has been as well loved, and so often re-read with delight, as 'Pride and Prejudice.' Other books surpass it in stormy grandeur; other novels by Jane Austen herself, richer in detail or more gracious in beauty, are sometimes preferred by her ardent admirers; but 'Pride and Prejudice' has a bloom, a laughing causiticity, and a quite specially familiar charm, which make it universally a favourite. It is like a merry sister in a family of attractive girls; and one never thinks of it without a smile."
"Pride and Prejudice" was written in 1796-1797. I can't say that the manner in which it is written is easy reading but any difficulty overcome is greatly rewarded. Since I do my reading in the evening when I'm definitely not in full possession of my mental faculties, I often had to go back and reread sentences in order to comprehend the intended message. Occasionally, I'd give up and simply go on without total comprehension. I understood enough to ensure that I cherished every page and couldn't wait for the certain delight of the next.
I highly recommend "Pride and Prejudice" and am certain that I will be taking it off the shelf again within a few years and spending splendid evenings with it open on my lap.
(If my attitude of writing seems more formal than usual, I attribute that to the hours I've spent reading this novel that is based on an entirely different place and time. I can't help but attempt to emulate Jane Austen's manner of writing. Fear not; the real me will undoubtedly soon return).