Classic Review: Sense and Sensibility | Jane Austen

sense-and-senGoodreads Synopsis

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.

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The great thing about Jane Austen is that none of her stories are too boring. There is always something there that captures your attention, whether it be superfluous romance, true romance, silly women, satire, gossip, drama, or even just a pleasant walk through the woods.

Even though Sense and Sensibility is a dialogue-heavy story, I was rarely bored. There was more than enough drama to go around and I can honestly say that some events caught me by surprise. And if you were engrossed in the Wickham/Lydia fiasco of Pride and Prejudice, then you would be more than satisfied with the Willoughby/Marianne fiasco. One thing I can say for certain is that Marianne is a much more sympathetic character than Lydia. In fact, they don’t even compare.

The connection between Elinor and Marianne is just as endearing as Elizabeth and Jane’s sisterly bond. Elinor is less a creature a wit, and more a mixture between Charlotte Lucas and Jane Bennet. She is both practical and reserved. Unfortunately, the mix of these two characteristics conveyed a portrait of sedateness, one that could be a bit too aloof  in comparison to Marianne’s ridiculously outspoken and overly emotional ways. Despite both the sisters’s flaws, one too reserved in her affections (the rep of sense) and the other far too expressive (the rep of sensibility), they balanced each other immensely well. They were a believable pair of sisters you could root for. You could trust Elinor’s judgement of other characters in the book because of her carefully controlled personage and you could trust Marianne to always wear her heart on her sleeve. Towards the end, both girls come to realize that to have both sense and sensibility is to have happiness.

I had only a couple issues with the book, a couple relating to the male love interests. After reading, it became clear to me that the book is about women and women’s relationships. The men are secondary to the growth of the women, though they are integral to the their learning experience. Willoughby was well-rendered as an untrustworthy rake, but Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon were severely lacking. It was hard to believe in the love affair between Elinor and Edward because we hardly ever saw them together and having a conversation. As for Colonel Brandon, I didn’t have the same qualms about his near lacklustre character (like Edward), but his ending was a bit too contrived for me. The movie, however, did manage to strengthen the men’s characters, if only a little bit.

Other than that, the book is well-written (of course) and it had just the right amount of wit and irony to keep me chuckling. The majority of the characters were funny, relatable, and memorable in their own way (I’m looking at you Ms. Jennings), and while the story has some obvious tropes and recycled personas, it was still a very entertaining read.

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