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Book Thoughts: Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

Austen, Jane - Sense and Sensibility

★★★★★☆☆ 

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
First published: 1811
Edition: Paperback, published by Wordsworth Editions Ltd, reprint 1993

DANGER! SPOILERS AHEAD!

I read this book before about seven years ago and I remember liking it, but anywhere near as much as Pride and Prejudice. However, I have to say, this time around I found it a joy to read. The characters of Marianne and Elinor are both so near to my heart. I think I possess both Elinor’s sense and Marianne’s emotions.

I love how the two sisters are the polar opposites of each other, who handle being in love completely differently. Both are lovable in their own way. Elinor’s restraint and sense of propriety is a stark contrast to Marianne following her heart at every turn, regardless of what is considered the proper way to behave. I could really connect to Marianne’s indulgence in her sorrow when Willoughby leaves Devonshire. And yet, I could also relate to Elinor’s composure when she sees everything she had hoped for fall apart.

As for the male characters in the book. I cannot help, even while reading the book, seeing Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon, whose sad back story makes you feel sorry for him. The fact that he ends up with Marianne is slightly uncomfortable to me, as he is supposed to be more than double her age, but I guess that was reasonably normal in that day and age! Willoughby is an interesting character, who falls in love with Marianne against his will, but ends up choosing money and status over her, breaking her and his own heart in the process.

Can I just say Edward Ferrars is a complete sap! He is the nice guy, too nice for his own good, too nice to others, and yet there is something selfish about the way he lets himself fall in love with Elinor and the other way round, knowing he promised himself to someone else. He compromises his own happiness and that of Elinor for the sake of his own pride and loyalty to Lucy Steele, a girl he no longer loves. Had Lucy not shifted her attentions, he would have married her. The sap! But I guess his overly loyal character suits Elinor’s steady disposition and I guess of all the couples that frequent Jane Austen’s books they will probably be the ones living happily ever after.

With regard to the story itself, towards the middle of the book it starts to drag the tiniest bit, losing some of the spirit of the first half, but then, so does Marianne… The part where Elinor and Marianne are staying with Mrs Jennings in London is my least favourite bit of the book.

The strength of this story is the way Jane Austen portrays her characters and the society they move in. All the main characters are so well rounded, their personalities  and situations so vivid that you cannot help but relate to them,  even if these people were put to paper over two hundred years ago (which is crazy when you stop to think about it!).

All in all, Sense and Sensibility is a book that will always have a place on my book shelf and I am sure I will read again in the future.

5 out of 7 stars

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