Sense and Sensibility

August 27, 2013 Classics, Fiction 21

37558Title: Sense and Sensibility
Editor: Jane Austen
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Austen’s writing is funny, beautiful, and engaging but I was sometimes disappointed by the sparse descriptions.

Originally titled Elinor and Marianne, in a way the book was still named after it’s two main characters. Elinor is eminently sensible, always putting her own feelings second to looking out for her mother and sister. Elinor is the exact opposite, entirely focused on her own sensibility and feelings with a complete lack of concern for the practical. Despite their dissimilarity, both sisters will face similar challenges as they navigate society trying to find love.

This was a reread for me and the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t remember just how funny Jane Austen can be. The humor is very dry and understated, but I thought that made it even better. She rarely outright tells you anything about a character, instead giving you snapshots of their lives that show their personality. As one of the critics quoted in the book pointed out, although the book isn’t overly predictable, the characters always act self-consistently enough that their actions don’t surprise you.

Although I personally relate much more to Elinor than to Marianne, I liked that the two heroines were so different. It added interest and should give everyone a character to empathize with. The plot was strangely engaging. Events move fairly slowly and what happens is all gossip and romance; not a description that I would expect for such an enthralling book! Despite the apparently unexciting contents, I couldn’t put the book down and always wanted to know what happened next.

In addition to liking the story, I also liked the edition I picked up. It was a Barnes & Noble classics edition and it included the best extras. The introduction was less spoiler-y than many but still thought-provoking.  I also liked that at the end of the book there was some extra discussion, some book club discussion questions, and a few quotes from critics across the ages. It gave some great context to the story and I’ll definitely be picking up more classics from this series.

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21 Responses to “Sense and Sensibility”

  1. samanthatule

    Oh I love Sense and Sensibility…it’s easily my favorite out of Jane Austen’s books. Sure the ending ties up everything a little too neatly out of nowhere…but I feel like it has the best characters.

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, it does kind of just work out, doesn’t it! I also didn’t like that we didn’t get to “hear” some of the important conversations, which were just described. For all that though, I did really like the characters and the writing. The characters are just so real 🙂

  2. ebookclassics

    I read Sense and Sensibility this month too. I agree that nothing much happens except a lot of conversations and awkward moments, but I would read faster because I wanted to find out what happened next (even though I already knew)! I guess that’s what makes Austen so great. She really draws the reader into the world of her characters.

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! It’s true! I already remembered most of what had happened in this book and it just didn’t matter. That really is impressive 🙂

  3. Alice

    I was underwhelmed by Sense and Sensibility, it just didn’t get me like Persuasion of Pride and Prejudice. As much as I loved Eleanor I just wanted her to be more expressive and as much as I disliked Marianne, she brightened a duller plot that I was expecting.

    • DoingDewey

      It could just be that it’s too long since I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, but I remember liking it in almost exactly the same way I liked Sense and Sensibility. But like Sense and Sensibility, I haven’t read it since high school, so I’ll have to see if I feel differently about it on a re-read 🙂

  4. Asti (A Bookish Heart)

    Is it horrible for me to admit I’ve never read a Jane Austen book?! I’m such a failure. Out of all of her books, is this the one you would recommend the most? I’ve definitely heard a lot of talk about Sense and Sensibility. But, you know, I feel like I need to read Pride and Prejudice since I’m so out of the loop ><

    • DoingDewey

      Absolutely not! I’m sure there are classics it would shock people I haven’t gotten to yet. In fact, I’m just about to start the Count of Monte Cristo and though I have long adored the movie, I’ve never read the book! And I’m sure everyone else has classics they haven’t gotten to too 🙂

  5. Patty B

    So far one of my favorites too – I have recently became a Jane Austin fan and am glad I decided to give her a try. I enjoyed both the book and the movie.

    • DoingDewey

      Me too! Actually, while some might consider this sentiment heresy, I think I prefer the movie. I thought was got to see a lot more of why Edward is awesome, while in the book we kind of just have to take Elinor’s word for it.

  6. Geoff W

    This is on the lower end of my favorites of Austen,but id o enjoy it! It’s funny that you mention the lack of description! Charlotte Bronte had the exact same reaction to Austen’s works. I quite prefer the sparseness as she was a great storyteller and character writer!

    • DoingDewey

      I’m a little torn about the lack of description. I love the understatedness of the humor and that she doesn’t beat you over the head by telling you about people outright. It’s fun to just get to know them 🙂 But I feel like a large part of this book’s appeal (to me, anyway) is that Edward is just so damn cute – and I don’t get that from the book. In the book it’s like we just have to take Elinor’s word that he’s awesome while in the movie we see him being kind to Margaret and trying to tell Elinor about his secret, so we know for ourselves that he’s a good guy.

      • Geoff W

        But that’s why her books last so long! You get the basic details and then you fill in the rest with what you want.

        • DoingDewey

          I don’t think I would list that as a strength of the book, but I can definitely see your point. It could make the book more “customizable” if you will, which might also make it more timeless since people could imagine things that they would relate to.

  7. Allison @ The Book Wheel

    I haven’t read this one but I’ve read P&P a bunch of times – I find that Austen gets funnier and funnier with every reread. I don’t know if its because I pick up on more or because the language isn’t quite as “scary” but it works 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I’m really excited to do a re-read of Pride and Prejudice in hopes that I see more in it on a second read too! I’m not sure why I noticed more this time around either, but I’ll certainly be thinking about it next time I read Austen 🙂

  8. Melinda

    I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my TBR list, and it will most probably be one of the first Austen’s I will read. Thanks for your review.

  1. The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love | Doing Dewey

    […] the book, this review is going to be a quick, easy read. The plot is almost exactly that of Sense and Sensibility, just a modernized version. My first reaction was disappointment that the author didn’t even […]