Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. What can I say? I didn't love it like I loved (or loved, loved, loved) Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice. It was so different to Northanger Abbey in a way which makes it more difficult to compare. But in its favor, I didn't dislike it like I disliked Mansfeld Park or Emma. (A word on Emma's behalf. Emma, the character, annoys me. I know she's supposed to be annoying because she represents the young and foolish and rich and selfish and spoiled stereotype. But still. It's hard to like someone like that. It would be like reading a book told from Lydia's perspective. I wonder if anyone has done that???)
Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood family. The mother has recently been widowed. She's got a step-son who's inherited everything, and her own three daughters. She's also got a daughter-in-law from hell. Really. This woman would make even a saint think that. The two are somewhat indirectly pushed out the door by the couple--Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood. They're insufferable to live with. And they're rude and pushy. Contemptible really. The only good thing that happens is that Elinor meets a young man, Edward Ferrars, and falls in love. Though nothing is promised or exchanged between them.
The Dashwoods (mother and three daughters: Elinor, Marianne, Margaret) move to a cottage quite a distance away. (Barton I believe is the place where they're staying.) While there, Marianne 'makes' two men fall in love with her. Colonel Brandon, a respectable but older gentleman, and the young and dashing and ever-so-handsome Mr. Willoughby. Marianne sees only Willoughby. Brandon doesn't stand a chance. They also meet many people in the neighborhood--Mrs. Jennings, the Middletons, the Palmers, the Steeles, etc.
The story centers around the love lives of the two older sisters Elinor and Marianne. Often the two are down on their luck. Money plays a big role in the novel. But Jane Austen loved happy endings so never fear. It may take a good many pages, but Marianne and Elinor are assured of finding men that suit them perfectly one way or another.
Originally published in 1811.
First sentence: The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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