If somebody had told me that I'd love a romance before I read this book, I would have laughed derisively.
In my late teens, romance was just not my cup of tea: it was meant for (yechch!) - girls
. I was happily reading about those brave and hardy men who blew up German castles (during World War II) and evil Communist strongholds (after the war). The only women in those books were beautiful spies or dangerous adventuresses.
A few years later, my aunt pointed me to this book, after I had rather enjoyed an adaptation of it on Doordarshan
(the Indian TV channel). I opened the book, read the first couple of sentences, and was hooked.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
By God! You can't be more true to life than this...[personal interlude]
Scene: Myself at a marriage reception, strutting about rather proudly having recently landed a job.
Mother calls: "Nandu! Come here for a moment."
I go rather reluctantly, because I know what is about to transpire. It is like I dreaded: there is another female with mother. My mother presents me to her proudly.
The lady looks me over with an appraising eye, and my knees are already weak.
She says in a wondering tone: "My! How tall your son has grown!" (I'm all of five-feet-six-and-a-half inches.) "When I last saw you (this to me) you were only so tall..."(and she holds her hand the appropriate height from the floor. This is not surprising, because when she last saw me, I was only five years old.)
She turns to my mother, and says the dreaded words: "He's employed now. Isn't it time he settled down?"
Uh...oh. I sidle away, because I know what's coming next: she knows of a "nice girl" who would be the perfect match for me...[end of interlude]
Oh, Mr. Bingley and Darcy, I sympathise with you from the bottom of my heart!
Elizabeth Bennet was the first girl I hopelessly fell in love with. Unfortunately for me, she existed only on the pages of a book, so my love was doomed from the start.
"...Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life." - Charlotte Lucas.
Being married to the same wonderful woman for more than twenty-three years, whom I did not know at all
before our marriage was arranged, I can vouch for the veracity of the above statement.
Wonderful book. Read it!