This month for book club, we chose the classic “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. It is an exemplar of English literature, with a strong female lead, and it was written by a woman author at a time when they were few and far between. The characters are at the same time remote or removed from us, and yet manage to be quite relatable throughout.
Set in early 19th century England, it is a story of Elizabeth Bennet (and her four sisters), an intelligent and independent woman who has to navigate a society in which she does not feel she particularly belongs. Indeed, the first line sets the stage, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, for the conflict that is to come for a strong-minded woman growing up at the time: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” The rest is history.
GEMs recommends Pride and Prejudice because it is an exceptionally well-written classic which dives into the topics of societal norms, expectations of family, and the backdrop of opportunities necessarily tied to financial options and access. While the novel was originally published over 200 years ago, it still resonates today and its themes resonate in this timeless classic.