Fast forward to my freshman year in college. I'm trudging through my first semester of Lit Hum (a mega-intense year-long literature class all Columbia students have to take). We get through the Bible, Sophocles, and St. Augustine (oh the painful memories). I go to the next book on the list. It has a lovely painting of a young girl in a pearls and an ephemeral gown on the cover. Hmm, this looks promising.
That night in my dorm room I read Pride and Prejudice cover to cover. Jane Austen made me a writer that night because I realized that books could be both fun and valuable--though I have of course come to realize that value is entirely subjective. When I first saw the previews for the BBC production of P&P my heart thudded. I didn't know any of the cast (at the time) but I knew--just knew--it was going to be the best movie I ever saw.
I diligently recorded the first airing, meticulously pausing over the commercials. (Yes, these were the days before Tivo.) During the course of the six hour-long episodes I remember marveling at every break that there was still so much more to go. Then Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy dove into that pond and emerged with his shirt plastered to his chest and I forgot how to breath.
Jennifer Ehle was a delightful Lizzie, exactly the sort of girl I would want to be if I live in Regency England. She could hold her own against terrifying rich matrons like Lady Catherine, scheming sleazes like Wickham, and brooding hunks like Darcy. No wonder she has inspired so many strong-willed heroines.
The settings were absolutely amazing. Beautiful Lyme Park played the role of Darcy's Pemberley, and I knew exactly how Lizzie felt when the carriage emerged from the trees and the mansion came into view. What wouldn't you give up to be mistress of such a place? (Oh yeah, you'd get Mr. Darcy, too.)Like all great romances, P&P ends with a wedding. A double wedding, actually. One of the things that still amazes me about this story is that there is nothing sensual, sexual, or remotely physical until after marriage, and yet somehow the sexual tension is as strong as the hottest contemporary romance.
I still have that copy from my freshman classTo be honest, I saw the Keira Knightly version but I can't remember anything but the kiss at the end because the BBC version brought my every imagination to life perfectly. There's only room for one Mr. Darcy in my heart, and Colin Firth isn't about to budge.
GROWING UP GODLY [soon to be retitled], Summer 2008 Dutton Children's Books
what I'm reading ... Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I couldn't resist.)