The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard

This month, my book club is reading Pride and Prejudice. That’s right, I made my book club read my favorite book. I am a terrible person. Except! It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is a pretty freaking awesome book, so I don’t feel so bad. (I might after I hear their responses. I don’t think any of them have ever read it before.)

As I was planning to start rereading it, Mike got a gift certificate from, which he very kindly agreed to share with me. Under the guise of “research,” I ordered The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, which I have had my eye on since it was released in hardcover. In case you aren’t aware of it, things that I love include both Pride and Prejudice and annotations. So much to love in just one volume!

As for the annotations themselves, I thought that they were a little strange in some places. There were things that seemed very obvious that the author insisted on defining every time. And there were times where the annotations stated his opinion as fact, which was okay when I agreed with them, but I didn’t always. I did overall enjoy that commentary aspect, though. The thing that caught me off guard was how much longer it took to read the book when I kept going over to look at the annotations. The first half of the book I really thought I wasn’t getting anywhere at all. The deadline started to loom large.

Was it worth it, having the annotated version? Obviously, as the notes give away some plot points, the annotations are not for first-time readers (and that’s why some of the notes on obvious things seemed so strange – a first-time reader might need some of that clarified, but anyone who is going to buy the annotated version probably isn’t going to need such pedantic definitions). There were things I had a general idea about that were clarified quite a bit, and, for me, it was worth it if only for the ways that it explained the financial situation of the women. I know I could have gotten that information elsewhere, but it was broken down in such a way that I was finally able to really grasp it. The one good thing about the annotations aiming a little bit low in places is that it gave me a good idea what questions the other members of my book club might have, so, in the end, it was useful for my discussion after all.

I would have to say that, at this point, the only real drawback is that I own at least three copies of Pride and Prejudice (it might actually be four), which Mike was quick to point out when I said I wanted to order it. So why don’t you get him to tell you why, exactly, we have seven copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone. I think you will enjoy that tale.

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