Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review: Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
Barnes & Noble Classics
Oct 2004 (Originally published 1811)
Format: Hardcover, 312 pages
Source: Personal copy

Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is a wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor’s reason nor Marianne’s passion can lead them to perfect happiness—as Marianne falls for an unscrupulous rascal and Elinor becomes attached to a man who’s already engaged.  

Startling secrets, unexpected twists, and heartless betrayals interrupt the marriage games that follow. Filled with satiric wit and subtle characterizations, Sense and Sensibility teaches that true love requires a balance of reason and emotion.

My thoughts: One of my reading goals this year was to read a few of the classics I have never read before, and some of Jane Austen's books are on that list. A while back I picked up a bunch of nice hard cover classics from Barnes and Noble, including 6 of Austen's works. Since I've read Pride & Prejudice three times already, I felt it was time to try out her other books and I started with Sense & Sensibility.

One thing to note if you've never read Jane Austen - her books are definitely not quick reads. But, the stories themselves are timeless. In the case of this book, we have two sisters who want nothing more than to find a good marriage for themselves. Elinor is the practical one, willing to give each action careful consideration. Marianne, on the other hand, leads with her heart. The book follows as the two sisters learn all about love and even loss. What's interesting to me is that not only is this pretty much the girls' sole mission in life, but it also becomes everyone else's business, too. How much money a potential interest has and their standing in life is the criteria that most look to when choosing a mate and it seems everyone has their opinion as to who is a better match.

What I think I love most about these types of books is learning about the etiquette of the day. The customs of daily life just seem so foreign to us today. The whole idea of sending notes is almost obsolete thanks to email and texting! Also, girls were not supposed to exchange letters with a man unless they were engaged to him. Then there's the whole idea that girls were not really educated nor expected to have any sort of profession.

I enjoyed reading this and now am anxious to see the film adaption. I've heard the version with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson is one of the best, so will be looking to find that one.  I do foresee rereading this at some point, definitely, though, after reading Jane Austen's other books. 

Do you have a favorite Jane Austen book?

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9 comments

  1. Very nice review. I haven't read this but I do like the movie version w/ Emma Thompson. We have the B&N version too on the shelf and I've been kinda wanting to read it. I'll have to do that!

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    1. Thank you...and do let me know when you get to the book - I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

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  2. I tried reading this when I was doing a classic book every 10 or so books. It was my first Jane Austen book, although I'd seen the movies of Pride and Prejudice and others. I wasn't a fan. Like you say, it isn't a quick read. And I was kind of bored, but had to finish it to find out what happened. For now I think I'll stay with the movies of her books. And I hate to say that, because I know the books are always better! Great review!

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    1. Thank you. I did feel at times that it was dragging, but am glad I stuck with it.

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  3. I adore this book! The movie version (with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson) is also wonderful. Terrific review, Kristin!

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    1. Thanks Suko! I'm definitely going to check to see if my library has the Kate Winslet/Emma Thompson version of the movie!

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  4. This is one of my favorite stories ...and yes, even over pride and prejudice! I love marianne's love story in this novel. I would suggest to also put another film version on your list, the BBC version that came out after the one with Kate Winslet. I really love the BBC version, one of my favorite movies!

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  5. I've read all of them, but my favorite is "Emma". However, I think most people choose P&P as their. I liked them all in there own special way. And I recommend reading the book before watching the movie

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  6. My favorite Jane Austen novels are Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. This one would be a close third. I love the relationship between the two very different sisters. There is a scene in the movie (Kate Winslet version) that always moves me to tears.

    It is interesting to think about the way marriage, romance, and relationships have changed so much for women. I never realized how shocking Marianne's behavior would have been during that time. She wasn't just getting carried away by her emotions. She was basically throwing herself at a guy only to be rejected...

    Great review! I hope you will enjoy the other Jane Austen novels you try too.

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