Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”

sense and sensi

Synopsis from GoodreadsMarianne 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 behavior 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.

Feelings: I love Jane Austen. I think Pride & Prejudice is wonderful and deserves all the praise that it gets, but people tend to forget about Sense and Sensibility. Honestly, to me, it’s just as good. They have very different stories, despite the titles and the two sisters at the helm. This is a story of when to hold your tongue and see reason, as well as a story about times where it pays to be impulsive and feeling. We get to see both sides of that coin through a couple of different situations. Elinor and Marianne both go through some pretty serious character development. They read like real people, from any time period. Their struggles, revelations, transitions…all of it is timeless.

Issues: The storyline was a little slow roundabouts the middle. Also, I feel like Elinor and Marianne’s storylines were butting heads sometimes, like they weren’t working together to make the story flow. We kind of jerked between the two arcs at times, to the point where I’d have to go back and remind myself who we were talking about. We spent a lot of time on Marianne’s drama, but maybe that’s just because it caused a bigger show.

Characters: I love Elinor and Marianne. I love them independent of each other and I adore them together. These are sisters who truly understand each other. They know when to move in closer and when to back away. Marianne has a harder time with this, as sometimes she can’t see past her own dramatics, but in the end, I do believe she sees Elinor.

When I read about Colonel Brandon, I can’t help but picture Alan Rickman from the movie adaptation. He perfectly captured Brandon’s spirit and calm, quiet demeanor. Colonel Brandon isn’t a Mr. Darcy. He just isn’t that swoon-catch-me-my-knees-are-weak kind of love interest. He’s the sensible choice, but not the kind you settle for, the kind you’re blessed by. He’s patient – Lord is he patient – and gentle.

Willoughby, Willoughby, Willoughby. So much hope. So much possibility. What I think is so great about this story is that it isn’t just Marianne being dramatic (although she is) or being silly in her affections for Willoughby. He felt the same for her! He held her as the standard of beauty, even after they were separated. We find out that he was troubled by how things played out. He didn’t just ride off into the sunset with his money bags and raise his fists in triumph. He suffered love lost, too.

Comparisons: I think most people are quick to compare this book to Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. While the titles are both dripping in alliteration, these books are very different. This story has a bit of a more serious tone to it, fewer swoony hunks coming out of fountains (cue Colin Firth), and very different protagonist sisters. With P&P, there are always debates about which character is “pride” and which is “prejudice”, while in S&S, those two characters are very clear. It’s less about overcoming themselves and more about overcoming situations, acceptance, and reality.

Final thoughts: If you like Pride & Prejudice, then I’d highly recommend this book. Don’t expect it to be a copycat, because it isn’t. Also, please please please watch the movie adaptation. Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay and stars in it, alongside Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. It’s so, so good. It’s one of my favorite movies. Emma Thompson perfectly captured the tone of the novel and the actors really nailed their roles.

Pick this up if you liked:

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen

Goodreads rating: 4.05/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.3/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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3 thoughts on “Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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