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Who doesn't like Mr Darcy, who doesn't think of Colin Firth when you think of Pride and Predujice? the book wills you to want this to work out for them, that in amongst the noise of the other relationships we find our hero and heroine together, their attraction so strong that the harsh words between them, make us love them more.
When I was younger, I refused to read Jane Austen novels, based upon a brief attempt as a 14 year old to read Pride and Prejudice. I had just been introduced to feminist ideas and hated the opening line, and couldn't get past that. The idea that 'a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife' was something that I certainly railed against. While I think this is a valid criticism of the novel, having rediscovered the book recently, I can see that it is of a very high literary quality, despite my personal dislike of certain aspects of it.
Upon re-reading Pride and Prejudice, I discovered the wonderful sarcastic tone with which that opening line can be read, which leads to an entirely different interpretation of the book. Austen shows herself to be a witty and sarcastic writer, employing humour in an understated but effective manner. She is very must of her time, and the novel is, as a result, relatively dated, but aspects of this humour can translate to the 21st century. It is difficult for a modern-day audience to fully empathise with and understand the situations that the characters find themselves in, as we live in a very different world, but the picture given of this world is well described and can evoke a real understanding of the lives of men and women from a particularly class and social grouping in early 19th century England.
A brief summary of the plot feels almost unnecessary, due to the popularity and levels of awareness in public consciousness of the storyline, thanks in a large part to the BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. However, to briefly summarise, without spoilers, Pride and Prejudice focuses on Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters, as their mother attempts to marry them off into high society, and Austen details their interactions with numerous men and other important persons of their social circle, such as Mr Darcy, and Mr Bingley.
One of the characteristics of Pride and Prejudice is that Austen constantly appears to be portraying the majority of her characters in a somewhat negative light, for example, they are often shown to be stupid and bumbling, or mean and rude. The exception to this of course is Lizzie. The characterisation does leave something to be desired as it is often too much of a caricature, particularly in the cases of Wickham and Mrs Bennet. These two characters seem almost completely one sided with very few redeeming features highlighted. Even the two protagonists, Lizzie and Mr Darcy, are unlikeable and irritating; I find it much easier to enjoy a novel when I can empathise with the characters, although this is not essential. In the case of Pride and Prejudice, my dislike of the characters did impact upon my enjoyment of the book.
Occasionally the writing style did grate on me, particularly Austen's constant asides to the reader, and while Lizzie is a strong woman, and the novel is not as misogynistic as the opening line suggests, it is hardly a work of feminism. Therefore, in conclusion, while there are aspects to this novel that I really did enjoy, there are many works from the same time period that I find much more suited to my personal tastes, although as a classic work of English literature, this is certainly a book that everyone should attempt to read at least once.
As I have quite a large family I usually start my Christmas shopping early and this year was no exception. One of the gifts I have bought so far is a Personalised Classic of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
I saw something about these personalised books a few months ago and thought they looked nice but didn't really consider them as a gift at that time. Once I started getting serious with my shopping I had an idea featuring one of these books and who I would put in the leading roles. I had a look around online and read a few reviews and from what I read I felt certain that I could alter the book to my requirements.
The idea of the personalised classic books is that you change the name of up to six of the leading characters to names of your friends and family and they become the heroes and heroines of some of the greats of classic literature. There are a few titles available but the one I chose was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen as I was personalising the book for my Mother who is a huge fan of the book and the BBC adaptation.
When you place your order you receive a box containing a welcome letter, an explanation of your gift, your registration details, a cast list, information about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice and a notebook for you to make notes to write your own novel.
There is a time limit on your registration but because the pack is put together so nicely you could always just give the pack as a gift and let the recipient personalise the book themselves or you can do as I did and personalise the book so that you give the finished article as a gift. You can register your gift online or by post but obviously online is much quicker.
Unfortunately the reviews I read were quite misleading and I was a little disappointed when I received my registration pack. I had read quite a few reviews on various review sites and none of them mentioned any of the following points:
The first thing that caused quite a problem for me was that you can only change six specific characters from the book and two of the characters I had wanted to change were not available. The only six characters that can be changed are Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy, Jane Bennet, Charles Bingley, Lydia Bennet and George Wickham. I had assumed from the reviews I had read and from the product description that you could change any of the main characters.
The second thing is that you only change the first name of the character. So if you want to put your friends Jane Doe and John Smith into the novel as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy the characters in the finished personalised book would be Jane Bennet and John Darcy. I had read in a review that the whole name of the character was changed.
After a bit of thought I managed to come up with a new idea that would suit my intended recipient but with the revised characters as I could not change Mr and Mrs Bennet to be my mother and father as I had originally intended.
While personalising the book you can also add your own personal message and your name to show alongside the authors on the cover.
You are advised in the details that your novel will be dispatched within 28 days. Mine didn't take quite that long to arrive but it was about 3 weeks. I was really pleased with the finished product as it just looks like the real thing except it has my name on the front alongside Jane Austen's and my family's names are inside.
Whatever way you choose to give these books they would make a lovely gift.
~~~ Personalised Classics ~~~
I stumbled upon the Personalised Classics range when I was hunting out the perfect gift for my 'awkward to buy for' sister. She earns a good wage, has no kids, and still lives at home, despite nearing her 40's. If she wants something she has the cash to go out and buy it, so what do I buy her for Christmas? - something with a novelty value of course.
One year it was a title of Lady of the Manor, another it was a square foot of land in the Bahamas, and the year before last it was this - a personalised classic novel with her as the leading lady.
I chose Pride and Prejudice as the book to have personalised, but there are many others in the range; Hound of the Baskervilles, Dracula, Frankenstein, Romeo and Juliet to name a few. If you want something a little lighter, as a gift for older kids, there is the Wizard of Oz, and Alice in Wonderland for girls, or Treasure Island and Robin Hood for the boys.
I paid £19.99 to purchase this book, from an online company. There are many stockists, so it should be easy to track down the title you want. Please be sure to shop around, as although the R.R.P is still £19.99, I have found them today for the bargain price of only £4.99 (1st October 2011).
What you actually recieve when you place your order, is a cardboard box which contains the following items; a welcome letter, a booklet explaining your gift, a cast list, notes about the author, and a registration form. The booklet gives you all the details how personalise it to suit yourself, or the recipient.
Firstly, you are asked to re-name up to six characters in the book. It is entirely up to you how many you do. For my sister's book, I changed the sister's names in the book, in decending order, to those of myself and my sisters. This worked out perfectly, as my sister Sarah could then go on to meet Mr Darcy (swoon), and I became Jane for a while (Julie is so 1960's).
The second step is to add your name alongside the author of the book, if you should wish to that is. It seemed funny to see my name, alongside Jane Austen's.
The final thing to do, is to decide what you would like to have written on the dedication page.I decided to personalise my sisters for her, and that way, she could open the book on Christmas morning, rather than being presented with a cardboard box. It also meant that it was done especially for her. I went to a lot of trouble, getting the wording of the dedication just right. I doubt she would have done the same,if she had to do it herself. You don't even need to go to the trouble that I went to, with quotes of poetry and the like; you could just put to and from, and Happy Birthday if you wanted. This is truly a personalised gift.
On the other hand, I have given these personalised classics as gifts many times, in the two years since my first purchase, and my eldest daughter now has four in her collection. I did leave her to personalise two or three of her own though, as although I know the basic storylines of those books, I'm not aux fais with the characters, and I wouldn't want to offend anyone by giving them a bad part.
Having a sneaky peek in her bookcase, she kept all the characters in Frankenstein, as themselves except Elizabeth Lavenza, who is now Emily. You can personalise these books however you choose.
My eight year old daughter has the Wizard of Oz one off Father Christmas this year (shh it's a secret), and I just know I'm going to be the Wicked Witch of the West. No, on second thoughts, that could be her sister! :)
Once you have placed your order, it takes approximately three or four weeks for the book to arrive. If you are personalising these as a gift, I would do it sooner, rather than later, and potentially not having the gift in time. All in all, the whole process takes just over a month.
The book that is delivered to you, is 9 x 6 inches, and is paperback. The cover is quite a heavy GSM, and is not flimsy at all. The book feels quite substantial and not cheap in any way. Obviously, the length of the book varies, but each book we've received has been just shy of 200 pages. To get more words on each page, they alter the text size.
I can't be sure the book is un-abridged, I can't find any details; but having read a couple myself, they certainly feel that way.
I will continue to purchase these in the future as they make great gifts for a book worm, or just the person who has everything - I bet they haven't got one of these! In my opinion, personalising it yourself, and then presenting them with the finished article is the best way of giving.
Most of the fun is working out, who should be which character. How nice or evil do you want to be? ;)
A perfect gift for a bookworm - it just takes a little bit of getting used to when you read it, if you are already familiar with the story.
Thanks for reading my review. I do hope it has been of some use to you.
It may also be found on other sites, under the same username.
My sister is notoriously difficult to buy gifts for - she is a "what do you get the person with everything" kind of girl. Whilst browsing for Xmas presents for her online last year I cam across this great product - Personalised Classic Novels by Gift Republic. My sister loves classic literature not least Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It seems I had indeed found the perfect present - my sister could be the heroine in her favourite novel!
The Gist -
This is your chance for you and your friends and family to take the leading roles in a series of classic novels. Basically you get to choose the names of the cast. There are a variety to choose from including:
Alice in Wonderland
Pride and Prejudice
Hound of the Baskervilles
How does it work?
When you order a personalised classic you initially receive a gift pack - not the actual book. The gift pack contains information on the novel and author and a welcome letter explains how you can register your novel and the names of the people you want to take a leading role. You can either register your characters online using the activation code or through the post by completing the registration form. The set up instructions are self explanatory whether you are doing this online or through the post. You have a choice of character names that you can change. You can also add a dedication to the beginning of the novel and change the name of the author. Once you have registered your product it takes up to 4 weeks to arrive.
Within 4 weeks you will receive a hard copy of your personalised novel - all cast names changed to those of your choice. The book is a good quality paperback measuring 15cm x 20cm. The paper quality is also really good. The cover is a generic cover which cannot be personalised.
As I wanted to have an actual book to give to my sister I completed the registration in advance rather than giving her the gift box. Registering the product and changing the character namescould not have been easier - I chose to do so online and it was merely a process of filling in an online form. The classic novel I chose was Pride and Prejudice. I was able to change the name of the lead character to my sisters name and I also changed the supporting cast to friends and family - of course I kept the name of Darcy as the hero as every girl wants to be swept of her feet by Mr Darcy. My sister actually broke up with her boyfriend shortly after the book arrived so it was a good job I didn't change it to his name as the present would have been completely ruined.
As promised the book arrived within 4 weeks and I have to say I was absolutely delighted with the end product. The book is presented lovely on quality paper and a nice size. It was really funny reading a novel that I am so familiar with starring my family.
The only thing I can think would make this product even better was if you could personalise the cover - but that is a small thing.
This is a brilliant present for any book lover. My sister was absolutely over the moon with it and we had to sit through a reading of excerpts from the novel on Xmas day.
If you are looking for a unique present for a novel lover then this will be perfect. I was so pleased with the end product I actually bought a Romeo and Juliet version of the book for my boyfriend with the names changed to Steve and Kirsty - although this particular romantic gesture was completely lost on him and he made it very clear we would not be acting the play out : (
If you are planning to get this as a gift be sure to order with plenty of time as although the gift pack came in a few days it does take 4 weeks for the actual book to arrive.
I order my Personalised Classics from www.giftrepublic.com for £19.99