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30 Books in 30 Days - Day 5: Favourite Classic Novel

I know this is probably a bit of a cliché, but this genuinely is my favourite. Pride and Prejudice was my first Jane Austen. It was also probably the first ever 'classic' book I read. It's also responsible for much of how my life has turned out. The summer of Year 12, this, Persuasion and Much Ado About Nothing provided the backbone of my holiday reading. When I was asked in an interview at Durham University about what I read on the beach, I answered honestly. The interviewer didn't seem to be able to get his head around the fact that for me, Jane Austen was light reading. I was grappling with Shakespearean and Jacobean tragedies, Chaucer, Joyce and the Old Testament. By comparison, Pride and Prejudice was positively frivolous! Needless to say, the interviewer kept returning to the question and I left the interview almost apoplectic with rage at having my responses doubted. Up to that point I had been undecided between Exeter and Durham as a first choice, when I left the interview I had already decided that if I got offers from both, Exeter was going to be my university of choice - there they hadn't questioned my honesty! Long story short, I met my husband within a day of arriving at The University of Exeter and we will have been together 23 years in October. Sometimes, fate just has a plan for you!

There are a multitude of fan fiction interpretations, sequels and re-writes of Pride and Prejudice and whilst some are dreadful, others are good books in their own right. These kept me company through the long nights of feeding my youngest son and gave me something to read when my brain couldn't cope with anything heavy or that involved any real level of thought. Reading the different stories about the same group of characters was like a literary comfort blanket - perhaps not the best coping mechanism long term, but something to get you through when things are difficult.

And sometimes, your favourite book just throws you an extra bonus in the form of a really good adaptation of it. It's something that every fan of Pride and Prejudice has an opinion on, but for me there is only one Mr Darcy on screen and that is Colin Firth, but contrary to what my husband believes (this belief may have something to do with me dragging him round the lake at Lyme Park on multiple occasions in the forlorn hope that just once, Mr Darcy/Colin will emerge wet shirted through the trees) it's not just because of him that I love the 1995 BBC production. It's sumptuous and indulgent, a wonderful way to 'waste' 6 hours and when I read the book, it's those characters in my head.

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