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The novel is interesting for its characters and the intricate plot, but it's just as fascinating for the glimpse of late 18th century morals and mentalities. There are so many outlandish pronouncements on the superiority of good blood and the inferior character and intellect of common birth that it's hard to tell just how aware Austen was of the irony or sarcasm. At times you think she is deliberately sarcastic, at others you fear she may be serious. The same holds true of religion, gender, and other cultural issues. Whether Austen means to be as satirical as she comes across, I don't know, but the novel is worth it for the values that contrast so often with our ideals of egalitarianism.
The story itself is detailed and intricate and full of interesting characters with complex motivations and lots of situational twists. The characters try to solve issues of romance and morality in a culture of stifling gender and class constraints, and the author is brilliant at setting up conflicts and resolving them without stepping outside these constraints. The book in some ways seems to be a criticism of contemporary mores, and in other ways seems an argument for strict obedience to these mores. These constraints make the story even more complex, since many of the sources of conflict come from a society the narrator never wants to actually overcome. It could even be read as a primer on obedience to society's values, no matter the difficulties that causes. The ambiguity of the author's intent make the book even more complex and enjoyable.
The narrator is very good, and her straightforward authoritative style is perfect for the ambiguity of the author's message, since you can never accuse the reader of being sarcastic even when you believe she might be. Well worth the listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is my second favorite Austen novel, after 'Pride and Prejudice'. It's a lovely story however I just felt the narrator wasn't the right choice. It's amazing how the narrator can make or break a novel. It's worth the price though if you've never read the story.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful