Title: Sense and Sensibility
Editor: Jane Austen
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.