Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811)
Goodreads Summary: Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
Earlier in the year I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time which was also my first reading of anything by Jane Austen. I really enjoyed it and knew I wanted to read more Austen. So I settled on Sense and Sensibility because it was her other book which I was most familiar with, having seen the 1995 film adaptation some years back.
So I was somewhat familiar with the story and eager to learn more as I read. At first I just couldn’t get into the book nearly as much as I did with P&P. I was a little confused about what was going on with all the names in the beginning, people dying, who left money to whom, etc. But the more I read the more I got into the flow of the writing and understood the different characters.
I still didn’t like this book quite as much as P&P and didn’t really find myself invested in the characters. I also didn’t find it nearly as humorous. And some of the things that happen in that time were confusing to me, such as certain behaviors being considered shocking which I found rather tame. And, interestingly enough, since I started watching Downton Abbey, I think I actually understand the time period a little better.
The romance in this book wasn’t as strong and I know it wasn’t exactly the main point of the book, but I wanted something more to recommend the book to me and pull me into the lives of the characters. Still, I stuck with it because I wanted the experience of reading the book for myself. I admit I did Google the storyline and read the synopsis on Wikipedia several times, just to verify what I’d read when I got confused.
Even though I didn’t like this as much as P&P, I still enjoyed it and am glad I read it. And it’s quite obvious the quality of the writing and how things flowed smoothly, how the characters were built, the structure of the plot, etc. So yes, Austen is a great writer, but Sense and Sensibility isn’t my favorite by her. Still, I look forward to reading more Austen. Which book of hers should I pick up next?
My Rating: ★★★★☆