We have already read Pride and Prejudice and it is one of our options for English Literature (we are still deciding on which book to use for our third set text). So when I was given an option to review a text guide from CGP I was very curious to see what the Pride and Prejudice guide included and how it was set out (would it be easy to follow and helpful or would it be overwhelming and confusing).
My daughter loved it (she actually read the whole thing cover to cover). She specifically commented on how the guide included the quotations from the book. She says that other guides often give you a bunch of quotes all together in a block, which she does not not find helpful, but this guide gives one quotation at a time and explains the significance of the individual quote clearly. She REALLY liked that.
So what is included in this text guide? The guide is broken down into the following 7 sections.
Introduction. I loved this quick but brilliant 5 page introduction. There is a quick background on Jane Austen, a map (we both loved this), a lovely one page summary of the main characters and then a concise two page summary of the entire book. We both thought everything about this introduction section was just spot on, really well worded and wrapped the entire book up beautifully.
Background and Context. I have said this so many times and I will continue to go on about this but making sure our kids understand the time period in which the books are set is vital to their understanding of the story. Both my daughter and I felt like these four pages of background information was well thought out and structured, they managed to really focus on the key points without getting lost in excessive detail (another one of her comments about some other guides she has read).
At the end of this section (and the end of all the other sections in the book) they have included a page of practice questions. These questions are broken down into quick questions (which test your basic understanding on the book), in-depth questions (which are longer discussion type questions) and then the Target Grade 8-9 questions (two harder questions). I must point out that there are no model answers for these questions but I do feel that if you have just read the pages before nice and carefully, understood what you were reading then answering these questions will be fine.
Analysis of Chapters. 14 pages which deals with all the events of the book. We liked the fact that in each page they would highlight things like theme, character or writer technique if it applied to the chapters being summarised. We also really like that they included a key quote at the bottom of the pages.
And after this brilliant 14 page summary you get more practice questions, this time the questions are two pages long and include some exam styled questions.
Characters. My daughter loved the characters that Austen created in this book. They have such depth to them and she loved how they interacted and how learning about one character always meant you gained insight into some of the events. We enjoyed these 12 pages and appreciate the fact that the text guide went into more detail for Elizabeth and Darcy. We found the highlighted blocks in this section insightful and are sure that lots of kids will find them really useful. Again I must stress that we liked the way the quotations were handled, we felt they picked out the essential quotes and made sure they were clearly explained. And again two pages of practice questions broken down into the quick questions, in-depth questions, target Grade 8-9 and the exam-style questions.
Themes. A vital 8 pages. (hint – we would advise anyone using this to make sure they have read the Background and Context section before you read the Themes section as we felt like it gives you a vital starting point for this section.) The individual themes are broken down into nice chunks of information with key points highlighted. We found this section really easy to read, to understand and if I am honest once we had read it we felt like the questions at the end of the chapter made more sense. (Again the same format of practice questions as the earlier chapters, although in this chapter the number of questions are more and the practice questions take up three pages.)
Writer’s Technique. I think this is often the section that lots of students might struggle with, so I always pay close to attention to what any guides that we get say on it. I thought this section took something (structure) which is often confusing and overwhelming and made it clear. Even if you don’t think you need the other sections this right here is reason enough to buy this guide.
Exam advice. Lots of great advice on how to approach the exam and how to structure you answer.
And finally we absolutely adored the quick 2 page cartoon at the very back of the book.
This is the first time we have ever looked at one of the CGP text guides and I have to admit we have really enjoyed it and think it is an excellent resource for anyone studying this classic.
I was given a review copy for the purpose of this post but you can get a copy directly from the CGP website – Pride and Prejudice Text Guide, I have also seen them at my local bookstores and as usual you can get them from Amazon – CGP Text Guide for Pride and Prejudice.
Admin – CGP kindly sent us three different GCSE/IGCSE sample books so we could write reviews on them and this book happened to be one of them.
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