Many adaptations have been made of Pride and Prejudice, and I grew up watching and re-watching the BBC version of 1995. When I finally managed to open the book that had been sitting in my library for so many years, I simply couldn't put it down.
It is perfectly written, with just the right proportion of description and dialogue, so you understand right away what is happening without the long discourse of other authors.
While the setting is rural England at the turn of the 18th/19th century, you nevertheless feel connected to the main plot, the pursuit of love. The novel depicts relationships within the upper classes of society in that period. It completely ignores the inequity of the time, the poverty of many, the turmoil that the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars wrought. Though Jane Austen was aware of it all, she does not write a critique of the whole of society, but speaks of what she knew best: the place of women of upper classes in the world at that time, and their struggle.
It is also, to some extent, a feminist book. Elizabeth has a particularly modern view on many subjects: marriage, love, and even the way women are to behave. She expects a lot out of life and that is, for me, the main reason why I find this book so compelling.
Robert Ebert (in his critique of the 2005 movie, but it perfectly applies to the book as well): Pride and Prejudice is the best of [Austen's] novels because its romance involves two people who were born to be in love, and care not about business, pleasure, or each other. It is frustrating enough when one person refuses to fall in love, but when both refuse, we cannot rest until they kiss.
CHUD.com: Despite the efforts of hundreds of English teachers the nation over, some folk still don't recognize that Pride and Prejudice is dripping with satire; it's elegant, refined, dignified, and it's funny as hell.