Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Best for: Anyone interested in getting swept up in a bit of period drama.
In a nutshell: Two sisters deal with the loss of their father and the change in lifestyle that follows, while trying to sort out their love lives.
“I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.”
Why I chose it: The cover, honestly. This lovely cloth cover drew my attention in a bookshop a few weeks ago, and I figured why not finally pick it up.
The book was originally published over 200 years ago, but just the same … SPOILERS!
I claim on Good Reads to have read Pride and Prejudice, but I don’t think I have (odd, I know, and I’ll be correcting that). The cover of the film version of Sense and Sensibility has flashed on Netflix as I’ve skimmed through options over the years, but I’ve never watched it (until now – it’s playing as I write this review*). I share that only to say that because of that, I had Emma Thompson in my mind as I read Elinor, and Kate Winslet as I read Marianne. But I didn’t know the rest of the cast, so luckily my imagination was able to fill in the rest of the characters.
It took me a little bit to get into this; I don’t read fiction often, and I read fiction from the 19th century even less often, so the writing took me some time to adjust to. That said, by about fifty pages in, I was engrossed. Unfortunately, because I wasn’t entirely understanding what I was reading (beyond picking up that Franny Dashwood is a conniving snot and her husband is a wimp), the whole Edward-Elinor pairing completely slipped my mind. When he was mentioned again much later on (as his engagement is revealed by Lucy), I was confused why Elinor would even care. So that’s a big whoops on my part.
I did enjoy that characters were developed and shown to be a bit more complex (not always, although often) than they originally seemed. That said … I don’t understand why anyone’s opinion should be moved by Willoughby’s big confession to Elinor when he thinks Marianne is dying. Like, I guess the fact that his wife dictated the shitty letter matters, but I didn’t see anything in what he said that changed anything. Did I just miss something? Or was that whole reveal meant to just endear us even more to Elinor and her willingness to find the good in people? It just seemed unnecessary to me.
Overall, I’m glad I read it. Up next, per a friend’s suggestion, is Persuasion; after that I’ll go with Mansfield Park, and eventually work my way around to Pride and Prejudice.
*The casting in this film is BRILLIANT. I actually squealed when I saw Gemma Jones was Elinor and Marianne’s mother. AND ALAN RICKMAN JUST SHOWED UP!