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Sense and Sensibility - Book Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published April 22nd 2013
A Jane Austen Classic
Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are as different as two sisters can be. Elinor, the eldest, is sensible, reserved and proper, always with a keen sense of responsibility to her family and friends, she places their welfare and interests above her own, and suppresses her own strong emotions in a way that leads others to think she is indifferent or cold-hearted. Marianne, the middle daughter, is lively, outgoing and frank, always thinking her own opinions above those of others and striving to live her own happy life to the full, displaying and entrusting in her own exuberant emotions.

Elinor, Marianne and Margaret Dashwood are the daughters of Mr and Mrs Henry Dashwood. When their father dies his estate, Norland Park, passes directly to his only son John, the child of his first wife. Mrs Dashwood, his second wife, is left only a small income on which to raise their three girls, and must find another home at once. The family move to Barton Cottage, near the home of Mrs Dashwood's cousin, Sir John Middleton. Although the cottage lacks many of the conveniences that they have been used to, Mrs Dashwood and her girls settle in nicely, welcomed with open arms by the Middleton family and their friends.

But with the move, Elinor was separated from the young man to whom her heart is attached, and Marianne falls into the path of young love herself. Before the end of the story, both sisters experience love, romance and heartbreak, and must decide whether sense or sensibility in life will preside.

Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen was first published in 1811; Austen's first published piece. The novel was originally published under the pseudonym "A Lady", and was going to be simply titled, Elinor and Marianne, until Austen changed the name. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice (1813) are arguably Jane Austen's most famed and accomplished novels, and although these two were published first, it is widely believed that Austen's work Northanger Abbey, published in December, 1817, mere months after Austen's death, was actually her earliest completed work. Sense and Sensibility has great standing even in today's modern world with the novel, its recreations, adaptations and rewrites still on the market.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 18 July 1817) was an English novelist who earned her name in English literature through her works of romantic fiction, set amongst the landed gentry. Austen's works display realism and social commentary that have cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics her works are 'classics'. Austen herself was part of a large family; she had six brothers and one sister; Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Both Jane and her sister Cassandra were thoroughly educated by their father and brothers and died unmarried.

Jane Austen (1804) by Cassandra Austen
Jane Austen (1804) by Cassandra Austen

I enjoy reading classic novels and I enjoy Jane Austen Sense and Sensibility was no exception. Elinor and Marianne are both loveable characters and I enjoyed the fact that this novel follows two heroines, where Austen's novels usually follow one. I can relate to Elinor Dashwood in her desires to protect, uphold and govern her family; her emotions are tied in strongly with the feelings of her loved ones. Marianne Dashwood is a lively opinionated character, and I can certainly relate to that too. I enjoyed following these two dissimilar characters through their lessons in the story and was glad that they were both presented with happy endings in their own ways. If you enjoy classic novels, romance, the works of Jane Austen or you'd just like to try something new, I recommend Sense and Sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility original title page with Austen's pseudonym

Sense and Sensibility has been adapted many times for film and television over the years. These adaptations include "a 1981 serial for TV directed by Rodney Bennett; a 1995 movie adapted by Emma Thompson and directed by Ang Lee; a version in Tamil called Kandukondain Kandukondain, released in 2000; and a 2008 TV series on BBC adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by John Alexander" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_and_Sensibility).

Jane Austen's published novels:
Sense and Sensibility (1811)
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Mansfield Park (1814)
Emma (1815)
Northanger Abbey (1817, posthumous)
Persuasion (1817, posthumous)

Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen
My personal copy of Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen
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Where: In the comfort of your own home.
Cost: From $9.95 for a paperback copy on QBD online.
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