I would not consider myself a Jane Austen “die-hard”. I do, however, have a Jane Austen mug and perhaps an unhealthy love for the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starting Keira Knightly*. Okay, perhaps I could be considered almost a “die-hard” fan of at least the classic Pride and Prejudice and its subsequent adaptations/parodies such as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
There is something about the story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth that is eternally endearing. Perhaps it is this fallacy of human nature that is so deftly expressed in this novel, or maybe it’s just that it’s actually a funny story no matter what time period you put it in. This love story is so incredibly human at its core that it’s no wonder it has stood the test of time next to great writers, or even more so than some great writers.
Jane Austen is a testament to the cultural power of romance, but it is something concealed behind the ivory walls of literature as we have passed centuries since her stories were first penned. From 1813 to 2023, the world has changed and yet we feel the ever-encompassing pull of this story.
This is why I’m glad podcasts exist, as a new medium to use to look at these stories and revisit them when the right pieces come together. I think this one is exciting because Realm has let us know that we’re not only going to hear the story of Pride and Prejudice but in future episodes, we’re going to hear commentary and interviews to go along with the story. Released today, from Realm comes The Jane Austen Podcast with Alison Larkin.
I am not typically one for single narration stories. It reminds me of when I was in school and listening to audiobooks on tape, trying to get my eyes to read along with the narration and just…not being able to do it. However, this one came into my inbox within a week of my birthday, and as I mentioned I love this story. I had to give it a shot.
I was so happy to listen to this podcast. Alison Larkin does a fantastic job narrating Pride and Prejudice I’m now craving my weekly foray into this very familiar story - and can’t wait for when I can take it all in one piece. For this one, that feels like it might be all the more engaging for listeners who might need everything in one go rather than on a week-by-week basis. We do have revisits of what happened in the chapters from the week before, but we do live in a society that likes a completed series.
I have listened to two episodes as a preview from Realm, and it encompassed the first eight chapters of the novel. Each episode sits between 30 and 40 minutes but it doesn’t feel that long with this engaging narration. Alison Larkin brings each character to life with an incredible subtly. This narration sits beautifully in this world of perfectly ridiculous that these characters inhabit. Larkin knows what this story is, and treats it with loving respect despite the underlying comedy in nearly every scene. Each voice Larkin has created clearly gives us a visceral character in their moments of comedy, and contemplation. I have all the confidence that once we get to the more dramatic parts of this story - Larkin will beautifully deliver the delicious drama Austen penned over two centuries ago.
I honestly hope that this podcast makes Jane Austen more approachable to listeners. English is a language where the change through the centuries does make some pieces more difficult to relate to. With this engaging narration and production, Realm and Larkin have made a 200-year-old piece something that much easier to engage with for those that might not find reading their cup of tea.
Listen to the first episode, out today, here.
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*okay, I am a little young for the BBC series with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and I’m sorry by the time I was conscious of what I was watching the man played Dad Characters and I just can’t do it. Judge me as much as you want. I judge myself for it.