Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 7.49.07 PMElizabeth Bennett overcomes her prejudice and Mr. Darcy overcomes his pride.  The most engaging Austen novel and the most feisty Austen heroine.

Opening paragraph:  It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Quotes from critics: “The greatest artist that has ever written” (George Eliot); “Miss Austen understood the smallness of life to perfection. She was a great artist, equal in her small sphere to Shakespeare.”  (Alfred, Lord Tennyson); “Miss Austen was surely a great novelist.  What she did, she did perfectly.” (Anthony Trollope); “the gaiety of the novels has pervaded them, the irony has kept its bite, the reasoning is still sweet, the sparkle undiminished.  Their high spirits, their wit, the celerity and harmony of motion, their symmetry of design appear still unrivaled in the English novel.  Jane Austen’s work at its best seems as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”  (Eudora Welty); “She applies big truths to little scenes” (Elizabeth Bowen); “Jane Austen’s world is as merry as it is good.  All the novels are perfect comedies—mirthful throughout and happy in outcome.  Despite their brightness and lightness these novels are in no way trivial.” (Eva Brann [not that Eva Braun]); “The witty precision of Austen’s style has entertained readers for nearly two hundred years without losing its freshness and power to delight, a testimony to her unparalleled genius.” (Diane Johnson); “The only best-selling authors in Jane Austen’s league in the English language today are Shakespeare and Dickens.” (Josephine Ross)

Bio:  Jane Austen (1775-1817) lived a quiet life with her family (first under the care of her father, a vicar, and after his death, under the care of her brother), mostly in the countryside of Hampshire.  Educated at home as a part of a large happy family, like her heroines, she was fond of dancing and long walks.  She had two suitors:  one died, one she rejected.  She died at 41.  Obviously, like her heroine Emma, Austen found that a “mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.”  “From this circumscribed life, she wrote some of the greatest books in English literature.” (source unknown)

Jane Austen is the undisputed Queen of Delightful Reads.  Wonderful witty, wise, ironic narrator and wonderful, flawed, but loveable heroines, set in 19th century England.  The subject of hundreds of scholarly studies.  Other writers have admirers; Austen has fans, societies, and even a cult termed “Janeites.”

Runner up for best book:  Emma