This winter I’m reading through one of my favorite books of all time, Pride & Prejudice, with my thirteen-year-old daughter for her homeschool literature course. It’s the perfect time of year for it, when we can pull up blankets by the fireplace and read out loud to each other…kind of like the Bennett sisters would have done.
But before you get any inflated ideas of my parenting ability, you should know that she hates it.
She can’t understand why they don’t just speak English, and she has very little patience for all those manners.
The few times I’ve heard her chuckle, however, have put just enough wind in my sails to force her to finish it with me. I get it: the characters can be hard to imagine if you’re a teen girl who spends more time scrolling YouTube than reading Elizabethan literature. So, I thought, let’s watch the movie!
And if you’re like me you know there is only one movie: the Colin Firth, BBC miniseries version. Just six short hours of entertainment! She’ll think I’m the best.
But here’s the deal, I read every page of the Internet. Every last one. And I couldn’t find a reading guide that told me which chapters of Pride & Prejudice align with the BBC episodes. So I did what homeschool moms do: I made my own.
And because I thought it would be really fun, I also came up with a Jane Austen-era dessert to go along with each episode. These are not necessarily historically accurate recipes, but they taste good and are actually do-able for this mom who doesn’t keep a larder of beef suet on hand.
So put on a cup of tea, enjoy your tarts and cookies, and swoon over Colin Firth together. May your child enjoy it more than mine.
Note: My preference is to read first and watch later, but I once heard an English teacher say that she always has her students watch Shakespeare before reading him, so they actually understand what they’re reading. I think the same theory could be applied here if you have a struggling reader.
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BBC Episode 1 | read Pride & Prejudice vol. 1, chapters 1-10
You’ll meet the Bennett family and discover the exciting news that “Netherfield is let at last!” Jane and Mr. Bingley start to fall for each other, and then Jane ends up sick at his home. This episode ends with Jane and Elizabeth finally returning back to Longbourn.
Bake: Jane Austen Apple Puffs at Tori Avey. They also taste delicious with a handful of chocolate chips stuffed inside instead of the apple filling.
BBC Episode 2 | read Pride & Prejudice vol. 1, chapters 11-20
This section introduces the mysterious and charming Mr. Wickham as well as the oafish cousin Mr. Collins. You’ll see the Bennetts attend their much-anticipated ball at Netherfield, and it ends with Mr. Collins’ audacious proposal of Mr. Collins to Elizabeth. (I personally think it’s really difficult for kids to imagine the overly verbose Mr. Collins on the page, so seeing David Bamber’s portrayal really helps.)
Bake: Strawberry Tartlets at Taming of the Spoon.
BBC Episode 3 | read Pride and Prejudice vol. 1, chapter 21 – vol. 2, chapter 11
Oh the horror, Elizabeth’s best friend has decided to accept a marriage proposal from that loon Mr. Collins. Lizzie tries to change her mind, but fails. Then, out of nowhere, Lizzie runs into Mr. Darcy at Hunsford where he declares his love for her, despite his better judgement. How could she turn down a proposal like that? Well, she’s Elizabeth Bennet. Watch her.
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BBC Episode 4 | read Pride & Prejudice vol. 2, chapter 12 – vol. 3, chapter 1
Mr. Darcy sends Lizzie a letter telling his side of the story with Mr. Wickham, and it’s shocking! Meanwhile, her sister Lydia is embarrassing the family by brazenly chasing after the soldiers. Lizzie ends up traveling with relatives to Pemberly, Darcy’s home, where she meets up with him again. Ooh, swoon.
Bake: Lemon Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies at Cooking Therapy
BBC Episode 5 | read Pride & Prejudice vol 3, chapters 2 – 9
Darcy & Lizzie seem to be falling for each other for real, when Lydia goes and does it. The foolish younger sister runs off with Wickham, and the truth is confirmed: he’s a cad. Darcy makes things right though, and we can’t help but all fall for him.
Bake: Chelsea Buns at Recipes to Remember
BBC Episode 6 | read Pride & Prejudice vol 3, ch 10-end
You get a wedding! and you get a wedding! and you get a wedding! It’s a happy ending for pretty much everyone in one of the best love stories ever written.
Bake: If you’ve really gotten into this and are excited to celebrate Jane & Mr. Bingley and Lizzie & Mr. Darcy’s wedding, then you might want to try your hand at an authentic Regency Era wedding cake recipe. Or, something a little bit simpler but still festive, like this Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake at Everyday Delicious.