Excursion to England: How to Live Like Your Favorite Book Character

If you know me, you know that I love a good book. This is because books can offer us a different lens through which we can see the world. Since books speak to my mind and my soul, it is very natural for me to talk about my study abroad experience through books. Now, regarding the title of this post: first and foremost, I’d like to say that I have many favorite books, and it would be impossible to pick just one as my absolute favorite. However, I will never tire of reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I love it all- from Mrs. Bennett’s complaining, to Mr. Darcy’s downright offensive comments—by now, I’ve read the book from cover to cover three times.  So, when a small group of friends and I decided to travel to Manchester, England for one of our breaks, I immediately began planning a trip that would give us a taste of the life of Lizzie Bennett.

Lizzie is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice: a confident, independent, and intelligent young woman who has yet to be married. She visits the grand country estate of Pemberley with her aunt and uncle, which will later become her home when she marries it’s owner, Mr. Darcy. Chatsworth House (located about an hour and twenty minutes from Manchester) is both mentioned in Pride and Prejudice, and it was used as Pemberley during the filming of the 2005 film adaptation. Needless to say, a trip to Chatsworth House, located in the beautiful Peaks District of Northern England, was in order.

“Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene — the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it — with delight.” (Chapter 43, Pride and Prejudice)

Although the tour of the impressive house was well worth the trip, I loved strolling through the gardens and grounds around Chatsworth. There is a particular magic in walking over the ground that you have walked before, where you have wandered through the words of your favorite novel. I wholly agree with Lizzie’s words, that “every disposition of the ground was good.” Although I love the landscape of Spain, it was beautiful to breathe in the brisk fall air of the English countryside, and wander the winding paths of the estate as they followed the river. The beautiful simplicity of the landscape was not only refreshing, but also a wonderful change of pace.

And, although the weather was not perfect, we stood in the rain near the reflection pool and laughed over the fact that we hadn’t seen rain in the past two months. We, like the five Bennett sisters marched up and down hills, strolled through the village, and laughed so much that the sheep grazing in the side lawn looked up to see what the commotion was about. After living at the base of the Sierra Nevadas for eight weeks, it was beautiful to see the smaller hills unfolding for miles and let my eyes breathe in all the shades of green of the countryside. Cities are beautiful, yes, but the simple pleasure of seeing the countryside is irreplaceable. But, I consider the best part of this trip the time I spent with friends. Above all, what brings me the most joy, is spending time with people and smiling, laughing, and talking our way through life. And in the words of Austen, “if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad” (Chapter 1, Northanger).

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” (Chapter 27, Northanger Abbey)

This post first appeared on the ISA Student Blog, which you can find here.

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