Sense and Sensibility – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

A Serpent’s Tooth by: Craig Johnson

The Princes in the Tower by: Alison Weir

The Glass Blowers by: Daphne Du Maurier

Reamde by: Neal Stephenson

Other Books I’m Reading:

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

I’ve been reading many works of actual History lately. Mostly Alison Weir. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, her book on Mary Boleyn is a recommend. I’m still working my way through The Princes in the Tower. It is looking like a recommend right now too. I have, over the years, come to really enjoy Weir’s scholarly work almost as much as I dislike her fiction. She’s got a Biography of Elizabeth of York slated to come out in December. I’m excited.

Since reading me writing on the intricacies of the English monarchy is…not that interesting, I thought we’d talk about Jane Austen today instead.

I know that when you start on Jane Austen everybody will tell you that Pride and Prejudice is the book you should start with. Don’t get me wrong P&P is a great book. Funny. Insightful. Possibly proving that Jane was an early master of game theory. It’s a great read.

Persuasion is my personal favorite. If I thought I could ever write a book that good, I’d probably never leave my computer again.

However, structurally, I think Sense and Sensibility is by far the best of Jane’s works. Every character in S&S has another character in the book who is their equal in situation and rank, but who makes the opposite decisions about life. Talk about the deft and handling of the old morality play. It’s not just that the main heroines Elinor and Marianne Dashwood have opposite temperaments. One of the hero’s, Edward Ferrars is also his brother’s opposite. Sir John Middleton, who is the benefactor of the Dashwood ladies, he provides them a reasonable place to live, is the opposite of the John Dashwood, the half brother who wants to get the Dashwood ladies out of his house. Then there are Anne and Lucy Steele, who are the opposites of Elinor and Marianne. Even Colonel Brandon has his opposites both in John Willoughby, and eventually Mr. Thomas Palmer.

I can see why this book is not as popular as Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion. Sense and Sensibility is an earlier work. Some of the characters are not as well rounded as they would be in her later works. Elinor can be read as cold or just a goody two shoes at times. Marianne can be down right dense.

There are also people who have read the book and were deeply disappointed that Marianne married and was apparently happy with Colonel Brandon. That ending has never bothered me. It makes perfect sense in relation to the rest of the book. Of course Marianne has to marry Colonel Brandon. He’s the opposite of Willoughby. Likewise, she has to be just as happy with him, as she would have been unhappy with Willoughby. Otherwise the rest off the book doesn’t add up.

The very first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, I wrote the worst ever modern take on this story. To this day it’s a stain on my hard drive. So trust me when I tell you that what Austen did in Sense and Sensibility proves her writing chops. I couldn’t do it successfully, and I have yet to read a book where anyone else could either.

So, what is your favorite Austen? Why? And which heroine are you?

Personally, I’m an Anne with a heavy dash of Elinor thrown in.

Favorite Scene: The scene where Edward is not married after all.

Favorite Quote: “Excuse me,” said she (Elinor), “and be assured that I meant no offense to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings.”

Enjoyability: Five stars

Where to read this book: Anywhere. It will make you look really smart.

Further reading: I found a Daphne Du Maurier at the library this week that I didn’t know existed. I have great hopes for it.

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Posted on September 4, 2013, in books, Fiction, fun, Reading, review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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