I have read and re-read the novel countless times in its entirety and skipping through to my favorite parts. My sweet spouse has endured countless versions of the movies - to the point that he has finally drawn the line, and I can only watch the "blithering females" when he's not at home. He despises Mrs. Bennett and the younger Bennett sisters that much!
It's interesting how some cinematic versions take very little creative license, while others use broad brushes with their spin (the Bollywood version "Bride and Prejudice" comes directly to mind).
Through it all, the depth and personalities of the characters remain true to Ms. Austen's original version. This is what pulls me in every single time - I can relate to what the characters are experiencing at an emotional level... Well, that and my hopeless romantic side enjoying the journey to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth's happily ever after.
Specifically I feel akin to Mr. Darcy - not in the I'm wealthy and the world is my oyster kind of way, but to the aspect of his personality portrayed in his admittance of his inability to talk with strangers:
"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
There are a few people with whom I feel a kindred spirit and can chat with as though we'd been friends for ages; however, most of the time I get tongue tied and suspect I appear aloof and uninterested to the people around me. I can assure you that in most cases I am interested, and usually a few hours after the event my brain has come up with something that I could have introduced into the conversation.
On the flip side of this coin, are the people I am comfortable enough around to show my true self. A recent trip north (with Joel in tow) to reunite with high school classmates allowed the more relaxed version of myself come out to play.
I had no idea who would be there, but the car was filled with my excitement to meet up with classmates I haven't seen in years. It turns out there were a half dozen of us and several spouses. Despite the small turn out we laughed, caught up on what each other had been up to since our lives' post-graduation chapter had begun and reminisced.
Our three hour long dinner proved to me that I can carry on full, in depth - sometimes thoughtful, sometimes flighty, sometimes frivolous - conversation. When you spend nearly all of your first 18 years with the same core group of people (there were 66 of us in that group), they become a form of family. Sometimes you get along. Sometimes you don't. The bond is still there.
My post high school years has yielded several close friends, but I still freeze at the prospect of striking up conversations with strangers.
Perhaps I need to take a bit of Elizabeth's advice to Darcy - practice...
I'm certain my life will be filled with more color when I learn to get out of my own way...