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"Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?" Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well--and this offer of marriage you have refused?"
"I have, Sir."
"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?"
"Yes, or I will never see her again."
"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.--Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."
Author: Jane Austen
Synopsis: Elizabeth Bennet is the second of five daughters born to a mismatched couple: her father is brilliant and quick-witted; her mother is silly and ignorant. Of the entire family, only she and her elder sister Jane manage to conduct themselves in such a way as to appear truly respectable in society. When a rich young man moves to their town, bringing with him two arrogant sisters and a likewise proud and even richer friend, every mother with marriageable daughters begins to scheme. Good-natured Mr. Bingley takes to Jane right away, and before long the reserved and somewhat conceited Mr. Darcy finds himself attracted to Elizabeth. In "a family so deranged", however, there are many obstacles to the potential marriages, and an appealing young man connected with the Darcy family tells appalling stories about Mr. Darcy's character. To make matters worse, Mr. Bingley, his sisters and his friend disappear very suddenly to London without much explanation and apparently without intent of returning. Elizabeth, lively and intelligent, finds her emotions and her information more and more confused.
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Every time I read this book it gets funnier. Jane Austen's wit is subtle and dry and can be found in perfectly casual sentences, and it just never gets old. The above passage made me giggle for several minutes as I hunted for it and typed it, and that's after many, many reads of the book and many watches of the 6-hour A&E movie (which in my opinion is the only movie interpretation that really captures the spirit of the book.)
For complex characters and a solid love story in which the principals grow personally as they learn to love, this book has no superior as far as I know. I also adore quiet plots that take place in the minds and conversations of the characters, and again, Austen masters the genre.
Did I mention that I love this book? I read it about once a year.
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