Thanks to Alison Steadman, I will never read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ ever again!

The novels of Jane Austen have been good friends to me over the years. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve re-read them. When mulling over what books to read for this blog, I decided to dig out my battered old copy of ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

However, from the very first page, it was totally impossible. Like one of those cards that plays ‘Happy Birthday’ when opened, as soon as my eyes found the page, the voices of the cast of the famed BBC televised adaptation, sprang into life, and there was Alison Steadman’s vivid and shrill Mrs Bennet, in full fleshy colour and frills voicing the words. Page after page, chapter after chapter, the scenes formed in my mind were ones straight from the TV, with no part played by my imagination whatsoever.

P&P mrs bennet

To be fair, I’ve watched the series a lot. Along with Heinz Tomato soup, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has become a staple ingredient of recuperation from illness in our house. What could be better than being cosseted by a duvet on the sofa with endless cups of tea while Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle smoulder on screen?

The adaptation’s loyalty to the original written dialogue makes for a really accurate and unsurpassed dramatic interpretation, but the downside is that, when re-reading the novel, the dialogue is fused with the actors who so convincingly made the characters their own, and it is just like watching the series, but without the duvet or the flu. It doesn’t feel at all like reading – it’s quite frustrating!

So, if I won’t read it again, is there any point in holding on to it? Definitely! It’s still a very beloved, old friend, and if I get ill and the DVD stops working, then I’ll always be able to go back to the manual!