3.15.2011

Review: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Published: 1811
Number of Pages: 409
ISBN: 9780141439662
First Line: "The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex."

See the Goodreads description HERE.

This is a story about a family, of a mother and three daughters, as well as their extended family of cousins, step brothers and sisters-in-law and their current love interests. There is selfishness and greed; there are parties and laughter; there is music and books and love; there is heartbreak and deceit. It seems a formula for success.

The eldest daughter, Elinor, is the only rational one. Her next sister, Marianne, is a silly, selfish flighty girl who cares nothing of anyone else’s problems and wants everyone to focus on her own. The third sister barely gets mentioned, as she is not old enough to fall madly in love with the wrong guy and then make a scene about it when he doesn’t love her back.

The brother and sister-in-law are greedy and care only about money, even though they have plenty and don’t share it with the rest of the family. The cousins are only focused on parties and gaiety and fun.

My impression of this book was that they spend the whole time having parties and looking for a husband. They fall in love with men who are unfaithful and they act quite silly about it upon realizing the man doesn‘t love them. The men are all fickle and quite rude about it, pretty much ignoring the girls once they have had enough of them and never communicating with anyone.  I almost didn’t like them until I recollected that this book was written roughly 200 years ago and times WERE different then. However, I find it hard to relate and also to distance these girls from our modern times. If they were here right now, they would be completely out of place. I would tell them to shut up or to stand up for themselves for God’s sakes!

This is an era where men and women still marry for money and class. An era where your mother can arrange your marriage to a “suitable” beau. An era where the women didn’t work and then men were landlords as an occupation. It is an era that I do like to read about and would like to understand, but that I have a hard time relating to. Maybe it’s Austen’s style of writing. Maybe it’s just the era.

However, for such an old book, it is sometimes amazing how much things really haven’t changed. I think this quote still holds true today.  “Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or other. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should not be shy”.

This one just cracks me up. “Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition”.  So she didn’t argue with him. She was snubbing him by not giving him the satisfaction of an argument. I love it. What an insult!

But the best quote is this one at the end, which redeems Marianne. She finally turns around and realizes that she is not the only person in the world and the learns to respect and care about other people. She realizes that the man she loved when young was worthless and the one who has stood by and loved her for years is priceless.

“Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another!”

I cannot say I really liked this book as much as I thought I would. From hearing what other people have said, I thought it would be absolutely great. It was just okay. I have found that there are several classics that I feel about this way. Maybe the hype is just too much. My expectations are too high. Or maybe I am just not into this style of book. I will keep trying however.

I give it a 3 out of 5. I liked this book but I did not love it.

PS. I have not seen the movie, but saw the cover of the book. Does Hugh Grant play Willoughby? I hope he's not Brandon. He's definitely more of a rouge. Also, if Kate Winslet is Marrianne, I am not sure I agree with that one either. I guess I will have to watch it.

Have you read Sense and Sensibility? Do you want to be part of the discussion? Please join us over at KT's Refinishing School for a link up and discussion of this book. While there, you can also vote for our April BBC book club read.

Photobucket

6 comments:

  1. I agree. Definitely 3 out of 5. I've tried to read older books too and had the same reaction. It's partly that the norms are sooooo different today than they were when the book was written. All the husband hunting and rules about how women are supposed to behave can be pretty grating. I think that the style of writing is definitely a factor too. It was interesting to read this and realize how differently a contemporary author would write the same scene.

    All that said, I really enjoyed the movie. Hugh Grant plays Edward and I feel like his character had a better presence in the movie than he did in the book. Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson were good as Marianne and Elinor, but they obviously made them older than they were in the book (which is fine by me). I haven't seen the movie in a long time, but I also remember Mrs. Jennings being really funny in the movie :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think Mrs. Jennings was funny in the book. They talk about how uncouth she is, always in everyone's business, but she does turn out to be a dear in the end. I actually liked her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The movie also fleshes out Margaret Dashwood and makes her very endearing, especially in her interactions with Edward. Edward was a bit of a snore in the book I have to admit (as much as I love Hugh Grant's Edward)!

    I was bothered less by the class/money thing in this book than in Pride and Prejudice which seemed to hit you over the head at every turn :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. i loved pride and prejudice when i read it, but haven't yet read sense and sensibility. i just love reading the classics. like you said, it's amazing how relevant they remain over the years : )

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey! I'm also a member of KT's BBC and just finished Sense and Sensibility. I had similar feelings about the book. I wanted to tell Marianne to shut up for about 20 pages or so. I found the book enjoyable, but not anywhere near a favorite. I'd probably give it a 2.5 out of 5, right in the middle. I've never seen the movie versions. Here's the link to my review if you want to check it out. :)

    http://elephantsrainboots.blogspot.com/2011/03/sense-and-sensibility-book-review.html

    By the way, I'm your newest follower! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Having been a reader of womens history throughout many ages, I know this seems like a "silly age", but the so-subtle roles are rather fascinating! I like to compare these women to Oriental women. It also makes you realize how far women have come and how much we take for granted these days in our freedoms. I would add that there's still a long way to go for women in the world.

    There, my soapbox for the day. By the way, I am a huge fan of Jane Austen!!!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!