Book Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are two sisters who couldn’t be more different from one another. Elinor is sensible and reserved, while her younger sister Marianne is passionate and spontaneous. The Dashwood sisters’ lives change forever when find themselves guests in their own home after the death of their father. Their half brother and his wife, Fanny, have inherited Norland Park and the girls and their mother struggle to find an affordable place to live. Elinor finds herself drawn to Edward, Fanny’s older brother and thinks that her affection is mutual. After the Dashwood women move to a cottage found by Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin, Marianne is drawn to the romantic Willoughby. While Elinor keeps her true feelings hidden, Marianne makes hers known to everyone. As the Dashwood’s struggle with love and the loss of the life they had, they learn to find the balance between sense and sensibility.
Jane Austen’s 236th birthday is this Friday and I thought it would be fun to review some Austen related books all week. I wish I could have reviewed all of her six novels, but I don’t have time to read them all, and instead I’m only doing one of her books. I couldn’t decide which to read/re-read but ultimately chose Sense and Sensibility. Reviewing a classic is difficult, since they are classics for a reason. I think Jane Austen’s books are for a certain type of reader; someone who appreciates reading about everyday life. I love Austen’s wit and sarcasm, and the tongue and cheek way she describes some of the characters (like Mrs. Jennings.) I love the writing and I find her books easy to be immersed in. Of the five Jane Austen novels I have read (all but Persuasion) I think this is the best one for discussion, since it leaves you with a lot to think about, especially about love. I loved Marianne, but I related most to Elinor. In the end, Marianne and Elinor both find a balance between Elinor’s restraint and Marianne’s passion. While I loved this book, I think that there were some flaws in plotting; without giving too much away, some things happened that were too convenient. The beginning didn’t flow very well and things felt rushed, although the majority of the book was wonderfully paced. And while I was happy with both matches in the end, I had trouble believing that Marianne would fall for Colonel Brandon so easily. This was why I thought that she settled when I was fifteen or so. While I loved Brandon, I felt that Marianne’s change of heart was very abrupt. Of course, the overall charm of this book offset all of these flaws. While I loved Sense and Sensibility and would recommend it, Pride and Prejudice is a good place to start for some who has never read Austen, especially if you are cynical about her books or romance in general. The 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is also very good and I especially liked the acting and the changes made to the script (such as Edward and Margaret, Elinor crying in front of Edward, Edward almost telling Elinor about Lucy, and Brandon reading to Marriane.) I am fairly picky about romance novels, and this is exactly how I like mine: with well developed heroines, great writing and a great deal of wit and humour.
“I wish, as well as every body else, to be perfectly happy; but like every body else, it must be in my own way.”