Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kelly's Review of "Sense & Sensibility" by Jane Austen

Title: Sense & Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Published:  Oxford University Press, 2004 (originally 1811)
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: I was reading all of Jane Austen's novels in order of publication

*This review contains marked spoilers*

I think that most of us can agree that, yes, Pride & Prejudice is a great novel. The characters and overall plot are memorable and inspiring, yet I feel it greatly overshadows some of Jane Austen's other wonderful books, such as this one.

In Sense & Sensibility, the two main characters are sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. They live a comfortable, well to do life with their parents. When their father dies, all his property reverts to his son from a previous marriage. The Dashwood women are essentially left homeless and must start a new life living in much more modest means. The story follows the girls in their new home as they meet new friends, encounter dramatic situations, and of course, meet men and fall in love.

The sisters both deal with love and heartbreak simultaneously, although in completely different ways. Elinor is more mature and gentle with her feelings, while Marianne weeps loudly and stomps around for weeks. As a person who identified with Elinor emotionally, I become slightly irritated with Marianne's dramatic ways, but her general youthfulness and fun spirit definitely made up for it in the end (she's barely 17 after all).

*SPOILERS*
The way their respective 'love stories' turned out in the end took me greatly by surprise. Did anyone else feel completely shocked that Marianne married Col. Brandon? I later realized that, duh, this is what the whole story is wrapped around and leads up to, but still. I'd been picturing him as a very old man in my head the whole time, that's probably why it was so odd. Yet the more I think about it, the more I like this couple. Brandon made Marianne finally grow up.
*END SPOILERS*

I felt that this book was much lighter than any of Jane Austen's other works. Many of her common themes show up (death, sickness, betrayal), but not in as much abundance and it is taken in a much less serious mood. The characters have their flaws, but they ultimately end up being endearing. 4 stars for a fun and lighthearted classic read.

If you enjoy movie adaptations of books, I highly recommend the 1995 movie Sense & Sensibility  starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. It is extremely well done and true to the book, as well as being delightfully entertaining. Also, if you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies, you will find a slew of those actors in this movie as well. Professor Snape, Madame Pomfrey, Professor Slughorn, Professor Trelawney and Umbridge all show up! Hugh Laurie also has a small but memorable role. :)

11 comments :

  1. Pride & Prejudice is the only novel of Austen's that I've read! I own S&S and am dying to read it..especially now!

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  2. **SPOILERS**

    When I studied this in school, we talked about how Marianne's marriage to Col. Brandon was some form of punishment for her impulsiveness, and was kind of a warning for Austen's readers. Do you agree? I know Col. Brandon is a good guy, but he is a lot older and she doesn't necessarily love him (though I'm sure she will grow to over the course of their marriage). Her dreams of marrying for love and passion are essentially dashed.

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  3. I really need to start reading more classics! I still haven't read any of Jane Austen's books.

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  4. I re-read this one a little while ago and definitely identified with Elinor - it's really her story much more than it is Marianne's, and frankly Marianne started really irritating me because she was so over-the-top sometimes. I found this one more slow-moving than P&P but all the same it had great characterization!

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  5. Tahleen, I really really like that idea! I've never heard it before. I felt that initially Marianne had more of a respect for Brandon, not necessarily love.

    Jump on it Jamie and Jen! Austen is great (most of the time) and totally worth it.

    Danya, I had to keep telling myself that Marianne is so young and therefore acting so silly...I hope I never acted that way when I was her age...

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  6. I think we've all acted like Marianne at one time or another.

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  7. I agree that P&P takes up a bit too much of the Austen limelight. I really liked S&S.

    Something to consider is that Marianne's ideals would have been dashed at some point anyhow, even if she had married for love...at some point life becomes life. It can't all be passion and fireworks all the time. I guess we need to aim for a balance.

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  8. I don't mind spoilers :) It just means I need to read faster haha.
    I'm still reading Pride & Prejudice, but after I'm definitely going to read Sense & Sensibility.

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  9. This is my favorite Austen novel! LOVE IT!

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  10. I loved this novel! We read it for British Literature II this semester, and I wrote my midterm essay on how Marianne's changes (AKA growing up) in the end are a good thing. I also love her with Col. Brandon - especially because he's Alan Rickman in the movie! Great book and lovely film adaptation.

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  11. I would say "pride & prejudice" is the best book by Austen. This book too is no less and a wonderful review you've written. Would love to read the review of "pride & prejudice" on your blog.

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