In Short: Two sisters–one who relies on sense and one on sensibility, though more often than not neither seems to have any sense or sensibility!
Why I Read: It has been entirely too long since I’ve read a classic! I was auditioning classics on twitter and Jane Austen continued to come up as a classic favorite. I figured it was time for me to read a fourth book by her.
Thoughts in General: When I was in college, my roommate made me watch Sense and Sensibility with her. Since I hadn’t read the book and knew that I wanted to one day, I desperately tried not to pay attention. In fact, I probably fell asleep. Whatever happened, I totally forgot about one of the major “hero” castings in the movie and I somehow got my Austen heroes mixed up (thinking that there was a Mr. Knightley in this book) and spent the majority of the book waiting for a hero who would not appear. I tell you all of this just so that you’ll know that I made some assumptions that kind of colored my reading! This book would have been totally different had a Mr. Knightley swooped in at the ending (like I thought he was) rather than how the novel’s heroines’ romantic interests ended. But that kind of ending would have been much less sensible.
What I really think this book should be called is Assumptions and Miscommunication. The two main heroines, Elinor and Marianne, couldn’t be any different from one another, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Elinor, the eldest, is more reserved and Marianne throws herself and her heart into all of her passions. There is a great amount of drama that occurs in Sense and Sensibility relating to the men that Elinor and Marianne associate with and sensible ole me kept internally screaming “None of this would happen if you guys just communicated with one another!!” But really–I realize that this is one of the most common themes of any type of book…um and even life…but it was almost farcical in Sense and Sensibility.
Despite any faults I found in the characters or the plot, I always love coming back to Austen’s wit and sharp tongue. She write this book when she was in her early twenties and the insight she provides into relationships and human nature are so spot on. Or horrifyingly funny.
“A woman of seven and twenty,” said Marianne, after pausing a moment, “can never hope to feel or inspire affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse, for the sake of the provision and security of a wife.”
Oh Marianne! Please don’t let that be true! For I know that seven and twenty is now much younger than it was in the early 1800s, to think that a woman cannot feel affection after that age just makes me want to cry. On the other hand, the below quote really struck me like a ton of bricks. How’s that for being slapped in the face with a cold dose of reality? I feel you Edward, I really do.
“Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or other. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should not be shy.” (Edward)
While I find myself relating more to Elinor (I am the eldest and certainly the most sensible of my siblings…muhhahaha), I wish she had a little more Marianne in her–the ability to really love out loud or express all of her joy and sorrow. For a good part of the novel Elinor suffers in silence and it about killed me. Of course, I probably would have had a better time with it had I not been expecting that damn character who would never show up. I mean really…this book would have been a bit more predictable otherwise and I spent most of the book in agony over not knowing who was going to end up with whom!
I did watch the movie when I finished the book (I really have NO recollection of watching it in college) and I enjoyed it. Had I known who played some of the key characters, the book likely would have been a bit more predictable (seriously, I feel like a bit of an idiot over the whole thing). Parts of the movie were boring (GASP!) and I still prefer the Kiera Knightley Pride and Prejudice (though I think I like this book better), but I loved seeing the characters come to life. The sense and sensibilities of the characters was so much more evident on screen and both Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet did an excellent job. Also…Alan Rickman’s voice. Is there anything better??
Bottom Line: I think I would have liked this one more had I not been waiting until nearly the end for a character to swoop in to romance the heroine. But I do love Austen’s sharp wit and I was pleasantly surprised by how easily my brain devoured Sense and Sensibility. While I’m still not sure where I stand in terms of a rating (see above where it says Undecided), it was a fun romp. Also of note, I didn’t listen to a lot of this book, but what I did listen to was narrated by Karen Savage on Librivox and she did an excellent job.
Have you read Sense and Sensibility? What is your favorite Austen?
Was there ever a time when you made an assumption about a book or thought you knew something that was going to happen that ended up being way off?