Jane Austen File:
Reviewed by Lori Fox
Pride & Prejudice (Insight Edition)
"...a sort of Special Edition DVD of the book world.... if those instructional editions of Shakespeare were written like this, more students would be begging to go to English Lit."
Jane Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice has come to us in many forms. In her original tale, multiple movies and mini-series, and even in the form of Bridget Jones' Diary.
Her fandom has inspired books like The Jane Austen Book Club, and Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Jane Austen In Scarsdale, as well as numerous biographies, biographical novels, and informational books such as What Jane Austen Ate And Charles Dickens Knew. Her personal correspondence has been printed and analyzed. We quote her shamelessly, often without even knowing it.
Some of the wonderful women at Bethany House Publishers put together a sort of Special Edition DVD of the book world. Along with all of Jane Austen's wonderful prose you'll find little snippets of information embedded into the margins of the pages. Rarely does a single page go by without at least one small observation, historical background, or reference to how such and such scene was played out in such and such big screen version.
Lest you think these additions are of the dry, intellectual sort that you often find in a school's copy of Shakespeare, allow me to provide a few examples.
Upon our first meeting Mr. Darcy, complete with the description of his arrogance as well as his handsomeness, the side note reads "Yep. Sounds like Colin Firth to us, too." Complete with a smiley face.
After a conversation in which the Bennets' neighbor Lady Lucas was asking after her married daughter's "welfare and poultry", the side note reads "In the early 1800's, caring for the family's flock of chickens was the woman-of-the-house's job. Inquiring after the poultry was good manners."
Where there are quite a few instances of defining terms or situations, they are all handled quickly enough to only enhance the reader's understanding, rather than to focus on teaching. On the whole, reading the Pride & Prejudice Insight Edition is like sitting around with a group of your best girl friends, and giggling over Mr. Darcy (And why didn't Jane think to include Mr. Darcy and a sopping, clingy shirt?), becoming aggravated over Mr. Bingley, bored by Mr. Collins, angry over Mr. Wickersham, and humiliated by Lydia's inappropriate behavior.
The information contained in the side notes makes this an excellent edition for a first time reader who may not be familiar with the differences between carriages, or what they told about a family's wealth, but the familiar tone of chatting-over-coffee makes it equally enjoyable to those who have loved Pride & Prejudice for years, and are always happy to go back for more.
Honestly, if those instructional editions of Shakespeare were written like this, more students would be begging to go to English Lit.
Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.