Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
No contest. I love many, many classics – but this one will always be my favourite, because it’s the one I know the best and have known the longest. I was two when Colin Firth strode out of that lake – between my parents I was brought up on Austen (mum) and Shakespeare (dad). I adore Pride and Prejudice. The 1995 BBC adaptation is gold, and you will never convince me in favour of Keira Knightly over Jennifer Ehle. You get the idea. I love it.
Not least because I still read it at 21 and am struck anew by Austen’s witticisms, find new layers to draw out and ways to imagine what is on the page. I am certain I will still be doing so at 30, at 50, and as long as I get.
I love a romance, of course. But what I love most is Elizabeth. Colin Firth / Mr Darcy will always have a piece of my heart – but mostly, it’s Elizabeth I’m in love with. Her frankness, her withering assessments of situations, her witty ripostes, her stubbornness, her sisterliness, her learning curve. Oh, Lizzie Bennet. What a woman.