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Austenathon 2011: Sense and Sensibility (Spoiler Thread)

75 Books Challenge for 2011

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Dec 16, 2010, 1:49am Top

As you read, this is the place to post insights, questions, discuss, whatever!

The Non-Spoiler thread is here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/104774

Jan 3, 2011, 6:48pm Top

I bought the book for this discussion and expect to be here starting in a week or so.


Jan 5, 2011, 5:15am Top

I just finished chapter two today and laughed out loud. Brilliant constructed - and Austen really also poke fun at how deceitful human nature is when it comes to giving and receiving. Our false evaluation of ourselves - how generous we sometimes think we are - when in fact we are really holding on tight to our money.

I'm reading Camus The Fall at the moment and thinking about an Austen-Camus connection - Clemence is so proud of his generous nature - how he helps the poor - when in fact he only does it to polish his own ego.

In fact a lot of Austens writings is about our relationship to money!

Jan 6, 2011, 10:38am Top

In fact a lot of Austens writings is about our relationship to money!

A lot of her plots do resolve around a woman's lack of money and the requirement for women without fortune to marry men with a good income. I wonder whether that's because it was a major preoccupation for Austen or a commentary on society and marriage at that time?

The only Austen heroine who has no need to marry for fortune is Emma, who is a rich woman in her own right.

Jan 6, 2011, 5:13pm Top

But Emma is still obsessed by marrying the right person, meaning someone who has as much money as her, as well as being handsome and charming etc, and applies the same criteria to others.

Since most women couldn't inherit, the majority were reliant on their husband's wealth.

Edited: Jan 9, 2011, 4:55pm Top

Okay, I am finished, quite early. Sorry.

In any case, since I am finished, I don't know whether to post my review yet, since many of you are just getting started, or not. I have a lot of thoughts about the book. All in all, I didn't like it near as much as Pride and Prejudice or Emma and felt like it was obviously an early, raw work compared to those.

In any case, if you're interested in my review now, it is at:
at message #50.

Jan 9, 2011, 5:48pm Top

6> On the other hand, I like it much more than P&P. I hate Elizabeth and Darcy, see... Actually, I'm not very fond of Eleanor, either. But I like the love interests/plots more in S&S than in P&P (except Willoughby - he's my favorite character).

Jan 9, 2011, 8:19pm Top

#6 - Totally agree with your review, Mac. I'm almost finished my reread of Sense and Sensibility as well, and while the first time I read it I was rather ambivalent about it, this time I just hate it. In terms of a classic novel, it still has Austen's beautiful way with words, but the characters are all icky, ridiculous people.

Jan 10, 2011, 3:39am Top

>4 archerygirl:/5: I think it's both that the culture of the time limited women -- one's wealth and stability were almost always dependent upon whom one married -- and that Austen herself was subject to that singular preoccupation, as a woman within the society (and a woman who was, with the exception of the writing thing, a pretty normal participant in her society -- no locking herself in the attic for Jane Austen!).

Austen represents marriage as the focal point in a woman's life. And it was, by all counts.

Of course, she also pokes fun at that obsession. :)

Jan 10, 2011, 3:44am Top

>8 Cait86:: Oh man, I just saw the "icky, ridiculous people" note. Ouch. That's my role model you're talking about there.

Okay, so I might be a little biased -- Elinor, as played by Emma Thompson, was my introduction to Austen's classic heroines (though P&P was the first of the novels that I actually read), so she is near and dear to my heart. :)

Edited: Jan 10, 2011, 7:41am Top

Hi all. I've not got round to starting my reread of S&S just yet, but I have read it several times already and, while it's not my favourite (that would be Persuasion, closely followed by Pride and Prejudice), I clearly enjoyed it more than you.

For me, the key part is the relationship between the sisters and BDB, while I enjoyed your review, I'm afraid I disagree with you that they don't appear to have a loving relationship - I think that they do very much so, they're just very different people (as you say). I'm going to have to do my reread to be more specific about that, but there are a couple of key scenes (one being when Marianne is ill).

Incidently, just a FYI, but you've got the "sense" and "sensibility" characters switched. The older definition of "sensibility" was more in tune with our "sensitivity", so in fact, Marianne is the character typified by her sensibility, while Eleanor is (common) sense. It's a very old usage of the word, although, interestingly, in French, sensibilité still translates as sensitivity....

Jan 10, 2011, 4:12pm Top

>11 flissp: I was forever getting the "sense" and "sensibility" characters mixed up when I first read this, because as you say they seem backwards to our modern usage. Now I just think about which one I think it is, then switch it! :)

A friend of mine mentioned once that she didn't like S&S (or P&P, for that matter) because so much of the plot hinged on misunderstandings that could be cleared up "if people would just talk to each other" (her words, not mine). I suppose in some ways that may be true in a way, but of course back then it wasn't so easy to do.

Jan 10, 2011, 9:08pm Top

#11, and 12.

fliss, In defense of my choices in the review: My usage actually came from the book itself, final paragraph in Chapter 1, where Elinor thinks to herself, and thus Ms. Austen writes, the following: "Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister's sensibility...." Thus, the reason I chose Sensibilty=Marianne and Sense=Elinor. So, in the first paragraph of my review I write, "Elinor with more Sense and Marianne with more Sensibility." Now, at the end of the review, I say that Elinor learns to live her life with what her sister was naturally blessed with (or Sensibility) and Marianne learns to balance herself with Elinor's gift (or sense). So, perhaps that was confusing.

As to the relationship between the two sisters, I concede that there is love between the two; I am just noting that the relationship is marked with much more strain than that of Jane and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. While Elinor and Marianne love each other, Austen writes much more condescension in Elinor's inner thinking towards her sister's behavior. Several times, Elinor seems weary of Marianne's behavior. Just my opinion.

Finally, I didn't dislike the book, I only found it inferior to Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

Clear as mud?

Jan 10, 2011, 11:16pm Top

Mac, I think your characterization of the relationship between Elinor and Marianne is spot on. And any woman who has ever had a little sister can tell you that there is genuine realism in Austen's portrait of that relationship.

I think the characters of Lizzie and Jane in P&P are much more representative of the generally idyllic relationship between Austen herself and her sister Cassandra. But Austen chose to represent a more tumultuous yet equally real sisterhood in S&S because it served the story she wanted to tell.

I actually relate better to Elinor and Marianne, mostly because my youngest sister is a senseless flibbity-gibbet toward whom I often feel the urge to condescend. :)

Jan 10, 2011, 11:31pm Top

I actually relate better to Elinor and Marianne, mostly because my youngest sister is a senseless flibbity-gibbet toward whom I often feel the urge to condescend. :)

Perhaps that's one of the reasons I prefer S&S to P&P - my relationship with both my younger sisters (well, one is only a month younger, but still!) is more akin to Elinor and Marianne's than Elizabeth and Jane's. Though, you know, I also kind of hate Elizabeth, so that could be clouding things. (I also hate Darcy, but this isn't the P&P thread.)

I don't really care much for the ending to S&S. While I like the colonel and think he's a good character, the marriage with Marianne always feels really strange to me. Perhaps it's the extreme age difference that makes me uncomfortable? But then, I suppose it's not really a marriage out of love, but because he needs a wife and she needs someone to support her, and they're happy enough with each other... (please don't try to insist that they have romantic feelings for each other, because I've never believed it, not in the three times I've read the book).

Edited: Jan 11, 2011, 12:36am Top

Keri, I agree with you. I don't think it is necessarily about romantic love, when Marianne marries Colonel Brandon (this is the spoiler thread, right? Or are we ruining things already?). There is a distinct pattern in Austen's works -- her heroines most often marry the men who make practical (especially financial) sense for them. Marianne comes to her senses (to connect back to Mac's comments) and that includes having sense about whom she should marry, according to society's standards.

Even though Jane Austen is praised for her romantic sensibility, her books -- and I think this is especially true of S&S -- always seem to resonate with pragmatism. Or am I just imagining things?

Edited: Jan 11, 2011, 12:45am Top

Oh, I agree about the pragmatism. It's all over Northanger Abbey, too, though I'm not so sure about P&P (those being the other two I've read - and the reluctance about P&P is entirely because of Elizabeth and Darcy being horrible people that I hate).

The romantic sensibility that I attempted to defend from - that's something I noticed in the parts of the recent S&S movie with Keira Knightley that felt so off to me. But I didn't see the whole thing, because I skipped a lot, just enough of the end to hear suggestively romantic music playing over scenes with the two couples.

Jan 11, 2011, 12:48am Top

You mean the P&P movie with Keira Knightley? Because do not get me started on that thing. It was all fun and games until she stood on the edge of the cliff and suddenly we were in Wuthering Heights.

Anyway, I will save that for when we read P&P.

I did like the most recent PBS mini-series of S&S, though. Quite well done, I felt.

Jan 11, 2011, 12:54am Top

Gah, then what was the S&S movie that wasn't the P&P movie? The one with ...Alan Rickman? I'm horrible with actors' names, I'll be honest, and it's not like Keira Knightley hasn't been in every book-to-film in the last ten years (mild exaggeration only).

Jan 11, 2011, 1:03am Top

Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and Kate Winslet were in the most famous S&S movie, which was made in the late '90s, I think. It was directed by Ang Lee. And I love it to pieces. Don't disparage -- I can't help myself -- it was my gateway drug to Jane Austen. And Ms. Thompson as Elinor... just fabulous. Heroic. I adore her. Okay, I'll stop now.

The Keira Knightley film was definitely P&P. Good intentions, not so good movie.

Jan 11, 2011, 9:00am Top

I don't care for the ending either. Not only does the marriage between Marianne and Colonel Brandon feel off-putting, but I don't feel for Elinor and Edward either. I guess this is another instance of pragmatism, but if I were in Elinor's shoes, I certainly would not marry a man who was about to marry another woman, just out of duty - especially when this man was also so stupid as to fall for such a woman as Lucy Steele!

Even if Edward hadn't gone through this whole Lucy debacle, I still don't see why Elinor cares about him - what good qualities does he have?

Jan 11, 2011, 9:40am Top

#13 Sorry BDB - must have misread your review (it was the "Elinor overly infused with sensibility and Marianne too much in tune with her senses" that confused me I think) - I've been a bit dopey lately, not enough sleep!

Re the relationship between the sisters, oh, I completely agree on that front. More strain, but still a great deal of affection. The last time I reread it was a couple of years ago now, so I really need to have it fresh in my memory (soon, soon!) to discuss this properly ;o)

Don't worry, I didn't think that you didn't like it - I'm just a bit defensive of S&S as it is generally a bit pooh poohed - I think I like it more than most people...

Hmmm. Romantic love between Colonel Brandon and Marianne. Yes, I agree that it probably isn't on her part, but I do, on the other hand, think that Colonel Brandon is besotted with Marianne... I also always find this part of the ending a bit difficult.

#21 "Even if Edward hadn't gone through this whole Lucy debacle, I still don't see why Elinor cares about him - what good qualities does he have?" - you see, I've always felt that Jane Austen's male leads are her biggest flaw - they're never really completely convincing, are they? I usually let my imagination embellish them a little bit...

This is actually why I love Ang Lee & Emma Thompson's version of Sense and Sensibility so much - he does alter the plot, but only in a way that gets rid of the less good/convincing bits ;o) ...although, much as I love Alan Rickman in almost everything else he's done (noone else will ever play Sheriff of Nottingham as well), I think he's dreadful in this - just incredibly leery. Emma Thompson, on the other hand, despite being far too old really to play Elinor, is absolutely perfect.

I'm going to skate over the travesty that is the Keira Knightley P&P - I don't expect anything better from her, but SHAME on Donald Sutherland (who is completely NOT Mr Bennet) and Matthew Macfadyen (who gobbles his lines almost as badly as Keira Knightley does - why on earth do people think that speaking more quickly will make it more convincing?).

Jan 11, 2011, 12:30pm Top

#21 While I don't think Edward is a very well drawn character, I think his behavior in the "Lucy debacle" was very understandable. He was a very young man, away from friends and family, constantly in Lucy's company, and very vulnerable to an attractive young female. At that time, a man was as completely bound by engagement as by marriage so he saw no honorable way of ending it.

#22 I agree that Austen's male characters are her weakest. Edward in S&S, Bingley in P&P, Edmond in Mansfield Park are described just enough to establish that they are respectable, kind and loving. The reader's imagination has to do the rest.

I was also struck by how much more realistic the relationship between Elinor and Marianne was compared to the sisters in P&P. Elizabeth and Jane were blind to each other's faults and saw the other as perfect. That was certainly not the case in S&S and I think that's why the sisters didn't seem as close.

Jan 11, 2011, 6:16pm Top

#20 Got to agree with you. I absolutely adore Emma Thomson's / Ang Lee's S&S

#22 Got to agree with you too. The Keira Knightley film is awful. Thought Keira was ok as Elizabeth but Matthew Macfadyen is all wrong as Darcy. Nowhere does Austen say he was constantly miserable and depressed. And they totally got Mr Bennett all wrong.

However, back to the book. There are some fantastic minor characters that bring zing to S&S for me. Lucy Steele is sooo wonderfully nasty but sooo understanding and sympathetic. John Dashwood is so deluded he's hilarious and Mrs Jennings and Sir John make the a really gruesome twosome. By comparison, Elinor and Marianne never really did anything for me. And Edward .. well, I suppose he's nice. Not the most valuable aspect in a leading man.

Edited: Jan 12, 2011, 7:39am Top

# 24 - I agree about your comments on the minor characters. They are hilarious. I love S&S exactly for that reason. It has a wonderful sense of humour and the dialogue fits so perfect for each character. I want to add Mrs. Palmer to that lot.

Another thing: Have anyone read books about Jane Austen? I'm thinking more in terms of her own thoughts about the novels and the characters in them - her evaluation of the novels etc.

I'm thinking about Elinor at the moment. How does Austen view her? I guess the novel reveal more about that. I read it many years ago but have forgotten the details. I'm at ch. 26 now.

Jan 12, 2011, 12:36pm Top

#25: There are volumes of Austen's letters available, but I'm not sure how much she really discussed her characters in them. I haven't read a complete collection of her letters, but I'd like to.

Jan 13, 2011, 5:20pm Top

# 25 OK, we'll add Mrs Palmer, but only if we can add Mr Palmer too.

#26 The only mention I remember Jane making was to compare a portrait she saw to Jane and Elizabeth in P&P. The notes in my copy of S&S suggest that Marianne might be a bit of a self-portrait. Not convinced personally.

Finished S&S last night and I don't want to give anything away here, but I've got to say that I was surprised where the book and the film differed and there were certain scenes that I had completely forgotten.

Jan 13, 2011, 6:20pm Top

Grrrrr. If there's anyone in Austen I dislike more than Fanny Dashwood I can't think of who it is. Love the passages of her talking John down from £1000/yr to some occasional fish and game.

Some interesting discussion above. I've never thought of Elinor and Marianne's relationship as being unloving. (I think this is my 4th reading of S&S.)
I'll think about that as I read, though if you're going to find their relationship lacking in comparison with Jane & Elizabeth Bennet's, it seems you could just as well compare it to Anne Elliot's with her sisters and find Elinor and Marianne extraordinarily close.

I'll also reconsider Colonel Brandon and Marianne even though I've never had a problem with that relationship. Her change of heart may have seemed sudden, but I never doubted his feelings. (Though I have to say - I've now watched the Ang Lee version of the movie more times and more recently than I've read the book, so maybe I need to be careful about which one I'm remembering. If I'm picturing Colonel Brandon as Alan Rickman then it's only odd that Marianne wasn't all about him from the second they met. ;)

About Austen's male leads - I don't agree that they're always weak. I can understand the sentiment towards those who were named - Edward, Bingley, Edmund - but Darcy? Knightly? Captain Wentworth? And characters like Edmund and Bingley are perfectly suited to the women they end up with.

It just started raining so I think I'll make some tea and curl back up with S&S. I'm only 3 chapters in but I'm trying not to race along as you sometimes do when you know What's Going to Happen. I'm envious of those of you reading this for the first time! :)

Jan 13, 2011, 7:16pm Top

# 28 - So, true, so true.....Elinor and Marianne is so different in the way they approach things - both of them feel deeply and have strong emotions, but Elinor choose to keep it inside - I thought of Elinors way of thinking and feeling as I read it this time again. She may disagree with her sister on how to handle things, but there's a deep bond of love between them - no one can doubt that.

One has to consider that Austen is always presenting the story from the women's perspective - and only that. Never do we read about what a man thinks - alone in his room - never do we read about two men talking about a women when there's no women around. The men jump unto the stage and dissapears again quickly and the women are left there to wonder and and ponder and gossip and everything else.

Actually I'm enjoying the 2008 BBC production of Sense and Sensibility a lot. It doesn't have the charm and humour of the Ang Lee version - but it's longer and there are more scenes taking from the novel. Give it a try. It's difficult when you have fallen in love with Ang Lee's- but it's worth it.

Jan 13, 2011, 8:22pm Top

If that's the version that was on PBS here last year, I agree, it's quite good. I really liked the actresses playing Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood, as well as the actor for Willoughby, in particular, and it was very true to the story except for that little bit at the beginning.

I think I have 3 versions here, the Emma Thompson one, the one on PBS last year and-- I went and looked, as I bought a complete set of Austen CDs last year on sale--these last are BBC versions but much older, 2 in the 1970s and the other 4 in the a980s, 1981 for S&S, with Irene Richardson. I think I will fill in the discussion time after finishing the reading with watching all three.

Jan 13, 2011, 11:41pm Top

>29 ctpress:/30: That 2008 BBC/PBS production is one I have enjoyed too -- I think it strikes the right balance of extra romance (like Ang Lee) with book-truth (can't find a word for that, but you know what I mean). I love it.

>28 madhatter22:: I think you make a fair point about the strength of some of the other male leads, particularly the older male leads (Knightley and Wentworth). I'll be excited to discuss those when we get to their novels -- Wentworth is one of my favorite characters (and not just because of Ciaran Hinds, I swear).

Even in S&S though, it seems like Austen had a solid admiration for military gentlemen -- obviously, we see questionable soldiers in later books, but it seems apparent that Colonel Brandon (and later Capt. Wentworth, etc.) is someone Austen means us to admire, both for his honor and his steadfastness. We might not be particularly overwhelmed with his romantic prospects, as modern readers, but he is set up as an ideal sort of man for his context, in my opinion.

Edited: Jan 14, 2011, 5:26am Top

I read some of her letters a long time ago (must pick that book up again) and she does talk about the characters a little (in the ones I've read, only Lizzie) - but not much - just little things like Lizzie's favourite yellow dress etc.

#29 "One has to consider that Austen is always presenting the story from the women's perspective - and only that" - this is certainly true.

I suppose referring to the male characters as "weak" is maybe a bit strong on my part, but they're definitely not her strength, in my opinion (this would be her observance of the ridiculous in every day life). Even men like Darcy, Mr Knightly or Captain Wentworth (my favourite) are fairly sketchy - you have to do a lot of filling in of their characters for yourself (although a little less so for Mr Knightly and Captain Wentworth). I'm happy with that - I think that it's better that she leaves the male leads almost (if not quite) as mysterious to us as they are to the female leads.

Hmmm. The 2008 Sense and Sensibility (was that one of the ITV series of adaptations?)) - I can't really remember it at all - but at least that means that I wasn't as appalled by it as I was the Persuasion or the Mansfield Park made at the same time (which both completely missed the point of half the characters). Strangely (because it's something I usually mind about), I don't mind the alterations to the plot in Ang Lee's S&S - I think he improves on the weak parts of the plot to be honest. Similarly, I really quite like the 1999 Mansfield Park, even though it messes with the plot and the characters. Probably because Fanny Price is much more likable in that version.

#31 "and not just because of Ciaran Hinds" - but it doesn't hurt, does it? ;o) That's my favourite Austen adaptation really.

"Even in S&S though, it seems like Austen had a solid admiration for military gentlemen" - the Navy particularly. Two of her brothers, including her favourite were in the Navy and I think this tells ;o) (in Mansfield Park, the relationship between Fanny and her naval brother, for instance, is particularly important to her).

...ETA that, of course, this was also a very strong time for the Navy in Britain (Napoleonic Wars etc)

Jan 14, 2011, 1:39pm Top

I started S&S last night with the intention of reading just a couple of chapters before going to sleep and the next thing I knew I was 150 pages in!

I've only seen the Emma Thompson version once or twice, but when I came across Mr. Palmer's line "I did not know I contradicted anybody in calling your mother ill-bred," I instantly heard Hugh Laurie saying it. I don't even remember if that line was used in the film, but I heard it loud and clear. Of course in my head he sounded like House, but still.

Jan 14, 2011, 2:04pm Top

#33 ...whereas I still find Hugh Laurie with an American accent really weird ;o) I don't think that he does say that line in the film...

Edited: Jan 14, 2011, 3:26pm Top

#34: Totally understand the accent thing. I find myself thinking of him as two different people: there's the guy from House and then there's the guy from Jeeves and Wooster and about a zillion other great things that predate House. I think I hear the line with the American accent because it's kind of a House thing to say.

Jan 14, 2011, 6:48pm Top

#35 That's a really good point actually. I never noticed before but there is a correlation between House and Mr Palmer. Well spotted.

I'm intrigued by the couples in Austen novels that are really unsuited. She mentions a few times the man who marries the pretty face only to discover the lack of accompanying brains. Obviously there's a lot of potential comedy there, but it does seem to be something she's interested in.

I suppose it's also the flipside of marrying someone that you're suited to, regardless of money or love.

Jan 14, 2011, 8:41pm Top

#36 "I suppose it's also the flipside of marrying someone that you're suited to, regardless of money or love." - she also has an example of that in Fanny Price's parents (Mansfield Park) - I don't like the idea that she's all about the money very much, but the Prices definitely demonstrate a couple who married for love rather than money and later regretted it...

Jan 15, 2011, 9:33am Top

On Hugh Laurie, he wrote a fairly good and interesting spy-type thriller book. Very literary feeling and better than average fare, witty. The Gun Seller.

Jan 15, 2011, 3:36pm Top

#38 I've always wondered if that was any good - I'm a bit wary of novels written by people famous for something else - it smacks of "I have nothing to lose so why not?" a bit, as the publishers must know that they'll sell well, so my gut instict would say they'd be less critical. I've never picked up Stephen Fry's books either, for the same reason. Good to know, maybe I'll take a closer look next time I go past the "Cambridge" shelves in Waterstones ;o)

Edited: Jan 15, 2011, 5:49pm Top

I've been catching up with this thread with my eyes half-closed so I won't stumble on too many spoilers, which is kind of silly since I saw the movie version ages ago, but somehow the reading of the book is such a different experience that I want to keep it as much of a surprise as possible.

#28 If there's anyone in Austen I dislike more than Fanny Dashwood I can't think of who it is. Love the passages of her talking John down from £1000/yr to some occasional fish and game.

This is the first book of Jane Austen's I've ever read but I can say with assurance that she certainly struck me as one of the more despicable types of human beings and unfortunately, all too true to life!

I quite enjoyed the following as well:

Mrs. John Dashwood saw the packages depart with a sigh: she could not help feeling it hard that as Mrs. Dashwood's income would be so trifling in comparison with their own, she should have any handsome article of furniture.

#38-39 I've been curious about that book ever since I heard of it, goodness knows where. I've never read any Wodehouse though, and the Amazon review says something along the lines of "If you enjoy Wodehouse, you'll love..." Do you think it would be helpful if I read some of his work first? I've been curious about him, but with so many titles, I have no idea what to begin with!

I just realized I probably shouldn't be cluttering this thread with non-S&S related questions, so apologies about that!

Jan 15, 2011, 5:14pm Top

Wodehouse could never be clutter! He is absolutely divine! You don't have to read him in any particular order: just pick a title and enjoy.

Edited: Jan 15, 2011, 6:22pm Top

Yes! And I know exactly what he means when he writes that "Jeeves just oozed into the room..."
Everyone should read a little Wodehouse :-)
I enjoyed the newest version of S&S by the BBC. It gave me a stronger image than any other movie of what their actual situation was like, and coloured my re-reading afterwards (in visuals). Perhaps I will watch it again tonight.
Also, has anyone read the mash-up? I mean Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I ignored them in the store, but my husband gave it to me one Christmas. All it took was a few pages and I was hooked! I wanted to see what these others had done with Jane's story, and I had one very intense bout of the giggles when I imagined Alan Rickman with tentacle face and reciting "I am the very model of a modern major general..." complete with the whole cast joining in at the chorus. Just try to imagine it!
Jane was very good at writing insipid characters, and nasty ones too. It is a pleasure to see certain actors playing these roles, I thought Imogen Stubbs, Robert Hardy and Hugh Laurie were well suited to their parts and did a great job ( I date my fondness of Kate Winslet from this time).
The men do seem weak. Edward was bamboozled by a real "piece of work" in Lucy Steele. She was a truly nasty female, and quite shrewd. Still doesn't excuse his inability to act on his own behalf (but then, he is a gentleman and gentlemen do not work, so he has to pander to what Momsy wants or he will be cut off and I will try not to append my modern day sensibilities on to him and judge him too harshly).
I think all of Jane's works have the same combination of absurd, lovely, ugly and serious. Every author has their pattern and this was hers (and she did it in such an endearing way that I love to revisit her books from time to time, and watch the DVD's). My collection of her works is very well used.

Edited: Jan 15, 2011, 9:11pm Top

I haven't gotten around to reading Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters yet, but I placed it high in the TBR pile after enjoying Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I just finished S&S and loved it. While I couldn't care less about the Dashwood sisters- Elinor was too reserved, Marianne too flighty, and little what's-her-name too invisible- I was swept away by the supporting characters. Was there ever a greater pair of grotesques than the Steele sisters or a more dreadful clan than the Ferrars family (barring Edward)? I think my favorite character is Mrs. Jennings. Perhaps she is "ill-bred", but she is also generous, compassionate, and loyal.

Jan 15, 2011, 10:27pm Top

I just finished watching the new BBC version of S&S (the BEST version IMO) and have my own response to what others have been talking about... the oddness of Marianne's accepting Colonel Brandon etc., but it struck me that it all made perfect sense. In The book she ask's Eleanor "What do Men want of us? Are we just playthings to them?" So it is logical to me that Marianne would be attracted to Colonel Brandon as he truly is an honorable man who has proven himself a romantic soul as well by taking care of his first love's daughter etc., She recognises things in him that she respects. They both love the same things. The behavior of the other characters in the book do nothing but show the vast contrast between Brandon and everyone else. He really does excel.
As usual, after watching this DVD I want to pull out my Yeats, Shelley and Byron and maybe get into finally making that Broderie Perse quilt that is on the girl's beds.

Edited: Jan 15, 2011, 11:31pm Top

>40 Smiler69:: That's a great quote. It really encapsulates Fanny Dashwood.

>41 amanda4242:: I don't know if I'd call Lucy Steele nasty, but I was struck this time by her being more shrewd than I remembered her. For some reason I'd remembered her as more ditzy and not really aware of how her speaking of Edward affected Elinor, when of course everything she said was calculated to see if she could get a reaction and/or to put Elinor in her place.

>43 amanda4242:: I like Mrs. Jennings too, as foolish and indiscreet as she can be.
I wonder sometimes, about what exactly made certain people undesirable as acquaintances to Austen's heroines (and so ostensibly to Austen herself?) There was a passage in the book where Elinor says that except for a couple of old friends of Mrs. Jennings, everyone they were introduced to was acceptable. Money and position seem to make a lot of character flaws tolerable, of course. But there are Austen heroines who are friends with people in much lower positions than themselves. What characteristics did those friends of Mrs. Jenning's have to have for Elinor not to deem them worthy?

Did anyone else find it un-Elinor-like for her to feel certain that Edward's ring contained her hair? She knew she hadn't given him any, and it doesn't seem very like Edward to skulk around looking for her stray hairs. I really liked that she thought that though. That she wanted to believe it so much.

Jan 16, 2011, 4:52am Top

I just reached the end of chapter 2 where Austen says "he finally resolved, that it would be absolutely unnecessary, if not highly indecorous, to do more for the widow and children of his father, than such kind of neighbourly acts as his own wife pointed out." (emphasis mine)

I can just hear the sarcasm dripping from Austen's pen!

Jan 16, 2011, 7:34am Top

One question for everyone... why does Marianne call Fanny "aunt" for the first little while? Does anyone know if the term stands for more than just an uncle's wife? She is their sister-in-law so this puzzles me.

Jan 16, 2011, 9:03am Top

The introduction to my Austen says that the set-up for S&S is the most auto-biographical, as Austen was at the mercy of a brother and sister-in-law who was left all after her father's death. Perhaps that situation was particularly emotional for her, as Fanny Dashwood does seem to be one of the most evil characters I've run across in her books so far.

Edited: Jan 20, 2011, 5:24pm Top

Re Mrs Jennings being ill bred - I actually think that Jane Austen gives both the elder Dashwood sisters a lesson with her. She may be frequently "vulgar" and indiscreet, but she is also kindness itself to the whole family.

Mrs Dashwood (the mother not the SIL) recognises this in her, even while she finds her too OTT (after all, I'm sure that we all have aquaintances who we recognise as good people, but who we will never be truly close to) and Margaret likes her very much. The other two, particularly Marianne (yes, even Elinor, although she is more polite about it), take a little longer to realise that first impressions aren't everything.

Marianne also makes the same mistake with Colonel Brandon - #44 kpolhuis, I think you're right - Marianne and Colonel Brandon actually have a lot in common - a great love of music and poetry among them, she just takes a long time to see beyond the fact that he's old (only 35 I think?!) - and here's another point - we must remember that they are both still relatively young (Elinor is 19) and will have been brought up within quite a small circle. The move to the cottage takes them in to a whole new world of personalities. Growing up is all about learning to look outside ourselves at how other people work and I think that they are still doing this.

Thank you for that thought, because, while I've always believed Colonel Brandon to be completely head over heals with Marianne, I've also always had a bit of a problem with Marianne going for him - when you think about it though, they actually do have a lot in common - and Colonel Brandon is very emotional underneath it all (as is Elinor), as you can tell from his youth. So, while it would be a very different relationship to her infatuation with Willoughby, in a sense, I can believe that Marianne could fall in love with Col. B.

Edited: Jan 16, 2011, 3:42pm Top

There's where I still have a few problems. While it appears that Col. Brandon has a yen for Marrianne, he is equally, if not more so, attentive to Elinor. And when Marrianne has her awakening, which Austen barely describes through the recuperation, her choice to go with Brandon barely gets explained or discussed. It's rushed through in the last couple of pages. This is where I felt like Austen was better with P&P, taking her time with the character's transformations and choices.

Jan 16, 2011, 5:56pm Top

But I think it makes sense that Colonel Brandon finds it easier to talk to Elinor because he's not head over heels about her. And of course, Elinor would be an easier person to talk to since she tends to conform to society's rules and makes polite conversation with everyone, whereas Marianne often refuses to talk to anyone she believes unworthy of her notice.

On the other hand, I reckon there's an element of Marianne just going along with what her family wants at the end, and is just lucky that she marries a kind, decent and intelligent man that she grows to love and appreciate for his own qualities.

Edited: Jan 16, 2011, 6:09pm Top

>50 blackdogbooks:: But much of the time Col. Brandon is talking with Elinor, it's about Marianne, directly or indirectly. And he's sensible of the fact that Marianne is not much interested in him, while Elinor recognizes his value as a friend much earlier.

Marianne's marrying Colonel Brandon made more sense to me this time. They are more alike than it seems at first, and she matures a lot in the 2 or 3 years between meeting and marrying him. Still, she doesn't fall head-over-heels in love with him the way she did with Willoughby; what happens is more believable and realistic. Marianne learns to esteem Brandon; they spend a lot of time together after Elinor's marriage and become friends. She knows it would be a prudent match, she knows how much he loves her, and all her family want her to marry him, and so she does. It's only afterwards that, " ... her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband as it had once been to Willoughby."
As good and devoted a man as Colonel Brandon is, and with her loving and romantic nature, it doesn't seem at all unlikely that she'd eventually fall in love with him once she'd grown up a little.

>49 flissp:: I also liked that both sisters learned to truly appreciate Mrs. Jennings. The passages where Mrs. Jennings was distraught over Marianne's illness and how it was affecting her mother, and Marianne's thankfulness to her later were really touching.

>41 amanda4242:, 45: I may have to re-revise my opinons on Lucy Steele. Yikes. I never remembered her being that selfish and conniving. And she even manages to work her way into Mrs. Ferrar's good graces! So frustrating, except that you know Edward & Elinor are happy, and that Edward's family and their spouses all deserve each other.

I'd also forgotten that Edward's proposal to Elinor is glossed over. (Again - that Ang Lee movie taking over in my mind! :) But that is one scene where I prefer Emma Thompson's take to Jane Austen's. After waiting for so long and going through so much to get to that point, it's a letdown to get "... in what manner he expressed himself, and how he was received, need not be particularly told."
I wanted to be particularly told! =p

Jan 16, 2011, 7:40pm Top

I don't disagree with much of what you all said about Marianne and her change, but Austen barely implies much of what you are all saying, and in just a scant few pages at the end. 9/10 of the books is consumed with Marianne hating Brandon and casting about in her emotions. There is little Austen shows for the reasoning of the transformation, outside of an illness and Elinor getting what she wanted, and she glosses over the change almost in passing at the end. I'm not saying you guys don't have it right, I'm saying Austen did a better job of it in P&P and you are all giving her the benefit of your admiration for her better books.

Edited: Jan 17, 2011, 3:57am Top

Austen did a better job of it in P&P and you are all giving her the benefit of your admiration for her better books

Oh I don't agree with that at all! I'm perfectly capable of judging Sense and Sensibility on its own merits, and I think there are many. I think Austen wrote six fantastic novels. I have favorites, but I don't admire the others just because of the strengths of those I like better.

I also disagree that Marianne ever hated Colonel Brandon, she just didn't notice him much. She was a teenager rolling her eyes at the old man in the fuddy-duddy flannel waistcoats. She didn't have much interest in any of the older people around her - or much interest in anyone at all once Willoughby was in the picture.

And I think Austen more than just implies the changes in Marianne, and not just in the last few pages. Marianne first softened her attitude towards Brandon when she learned about Eliza and her mother. After her illness she realized how she had treated people who were so kind to her. She saw that Elinor had also been in pain over Edward and had handled the situation in a more mature and admirable way. And as for the last few pages, remember that some time passes between Elinor's marriage and Marianne's, even though it's disposed of in a few sentences. The amount of time isn't specified, but since Marianne has just turned 17 when she meets Willoughby and is 19 when she marries, it seems like she had at least a year after Elinor's wedding to continue to mature and to get to know Colonel Brandon. And even when she married him it wasn't because she was madly in love with him. (see #52) That didn't happen until later.

At one time I also thought Marianne's change of heart seemed sudden, but this time around I could see it being more gradual, and her feelings made perfect sense to me.

Jan 17, 2011, 9:12am Top

54- I just finished S&S, and I have to agree with your assessment. :)

Edited: Jan 17, 2011, 9:48am Top

Like (almost) everybody else I have problems with Marianne being paired off with Colonel Brandon at the end -- too schematic.

As for Jane Austen's attitude to money, I remember somebody summed it up as "It's wrong to marry for money, but it's silly to marry without it". As a poor relation dependent on her brother who'd been adopted as a baby by a very rich family, she knew the value of money and that people had to have something to live on.

I love the minor characters too, especially Mr Palmer and Mrs. Jennings.

Although I think the schematicisim between the sense and sensibility is overdone, I will forgive an author anything if she can come up with things like:

for though a very few hours spent in the hard labor of incessant talking will despatch more subjects than can really be in common between any two rational creatures, yet, with lovers it is different. Between them no subject is finished, no communication is even made, till it has been made at least twenty times over. or

Her family had of late been exceedingly fluctuating. For many years of her life she had had two sons; but the crime and annihilation of Edward, a few weeks ago, had robbed her of one; the similar annihilation of Robert had left her for a fortnight without any; and now, by the resuscitation of Edward, she had one again.

Edited: Jan 17, 2011, 3:42pm Top

#56 great quotes! ;o)

Right, having polished off my current reads at the weekend, I am now reading to start my S&S re-read - yay! It'll be interesting to read it again bearing in mind all these comments...

Jan 18, 2011, 12:44am Top

>56 Robertgreaves:: Love the quotes. :) And your point about Austen's attitude towards money as well. Her character's views on money and marrying well very much reflect the time and society she lived in.

Jan 18, 2011, 6:46am Top

I'm only a little way in the brother has been persuaded by his wife to not be so generous with his mother and sisters. What a lovely piece of work. I left my list of characters at work so can't remember names. The brother is John?

Jan 18, 2011, 7:03am Top

Yep! ...and the wife is Fanny.

Edited: Jan 18, 2011, 1:24pm Top

I loved reading all of your comments. Starting today with my re-read of S&S. Should be fun.

ETA: Just went to the book case to retrieve my copy of Sense and Sensibility and I can't find it. It's NOT possible that I don't have a copy. Maybe I lent it out. You know what I'm going to do right? Right. Off to the bookstore. Will she buy just one book? Will it be the one she needs?

Jan 18, 2011, 3:30pm Top

I finished the first volume last night. We started off with a benign and orderly society. There were wrinkles, but somehow they seemed to get ironed out, but with traces remaining. Now we are to the point that there is an established order, and the established order seems to be inadequate.

Part of that is that the people, all supposed at the beginning to be benign, are not benign or fully credible, and yet everybody is invested in everybody else's credibility.

I'm looking forward to the second volume.


Jan 18, 2011, 5:19pm Top

I'm about halfway through my re-read (Marianne just encountered Willoughby at the ball in London) and although I've lost count of how many times I've read Austen's novels, I always find something new to delight in each time. This time around I was so impressed by how wonderfully she manages to set up similar emotional circumstances for Elinor and Marianne (they are both disappointed by the men they love) and yet they both have totally different and relatable reactions. While Marianne indulges in the weeping and gnashing of teeth over Willoughby's departure, Elinor (after a brief, solitary cry) remains entirely level-headed when she learns about Edward's engagement to Lucy. Even more beautifully done is that although these two sisters are in the same place emotionally, they still can't communicate it to each other.

Jan 20, 2011, 7:11am Top

I just finished the book, it was the third time I read it. No change to my rating (4 stars), it remains my 2nd favorite Austen novel after P&P.

I can't believe how much of the plot I had forgotten in the meantime. Maybe it's the fault of the Ang Lee movie version, but I couldn't remember the return of Willoughby during Marianne's illness and alltogether I had never realized how much was changed in the movie for dramatic effect (Marianne's illness being caused by her walk to Willoughby's place and Colonel Brandon carrying her back being just one example).

My perception of Brandon has been different now each time I read the book. The first time when I was completely unspoiled plotwise I was hoping for a happy ending with Willoughby and was quite disappointed when Marianne married Brandon. The second time (having watched the movie in the meantime and being a fan of Alan Rickman) I was all for Brandon and read over the Willoughy chapters as quickly as I could.
Now this third time I didn't like either of them. Willoughby doesn't need much further discussion, but Brandon this time reminded me of a spider, weaving his net (becoming friends with everyone, being ever present, even kind of securing her mother's consent during Marianne's illness) and waiting patiently his turn. I know that's not how Austen intended him to be seen, but I couldn't help it. He is a good man, but he is not as harmless as I always thought. Never before had I been so aware of the pressure Marianne might have felt towards the ending when everybody wants her to finally give in to the feelings of the Colonel. Once Willoughby was out of the way everyone, Brandon included, made sure he was the only remaining option.

Another thing I never noticed before was with how much spite some of the chapters are written, chapter 34 for example. It's funny, yes, but you can also feel a good deal of bitterness and in those moments I guess Elinor IS Austen.

Jan 20, 2011, 5:06pm Top

Does anyone else feel the return of Willoughby is too actually pretty contrived? Maybe it's that pesky film again, but it just doesn't seem necessary.

>64 Deern: I can see where you're going with Brandon, but don't accept that he's been plotting all this time. I think it's just another facet of his behaviour as the perfect gentleman (but not necessarily the perfect man) and the counter to Willoughby's rashness. If anything I think he accepts far too much and doesn't fight enough for the woman he's supposedly madly in love with.

I think Marianne has lost a lot of confidence in her own judgement, and as a result is inclined to stay closer to home. And while she might have felt pressured, I think it's self-inflicted: since her family obviously prefer Brandon, and her own opinions aren't to be trusted, she's bound to accept him when he proposes. I think she's happy making her mother and sisters happy, rather than the self-indulgent madam of the earlier book.

Austen playing opposites again.

Jan 20, 2011, 5:08pm Top

I finished the novel proper last night; I have yet to finish the criticism at the back of the Norton Critical Edition. I think that the social setting for every personal decision was critical, so like it or not the social approbation to Marianne's marrying the Colonel was inevitable. (Equally, I suppose, social antipathy to it could have canceled it.) I liked the Colonel; I liked his patience and his charity.

The editor of this edition mentioned Ang Lee's version with apparent approval. I wondered whether I should get it.

I also wondered whether anybody has written a novel about Margaret Dashwood.


Jan 20, 2011, 6:19pm Top

I'm told she gets a bigger part in The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love, which I saw in a local bookshop the other day.

Jan 20, 2011, 8:29pm Top

I am about halfway through. It has been a very long time since I last read this particular story. I honestly didn't remember Elinor as quite so, hmmm, can't think of the word... what I mean to say is that her turn of phrase could be taken in different ways depending on the hearer. There's a double entendre in nearly everything she says. I see it as one of her tools for dealing with the things about her sister that drive her nuts. Perhaps because I am also the eldest in a family with a much younger - drama queen - sister. I like Elinor much better this reading, and I like Edward much less. I still like Colonel Brandon. I don't quite agree with the spider analogy, although I can hardly blame the man for working hard at getting what he wants.
I had remembered Sense and Sensibility as the most boring of the Austens I had read. I have to retract that opinion. I am really enjoying it this time around.

Jan 20, 2011, 8:29pm Top

>65 JenMacPen: I've always enjoyed the return of Willoughby. It's got that delightful dash of melodrama and hints at Austen's heritage of gothic novels where things like that often happen. I think it's just my mental image of the always proper Elinor of not only having to deal with the sometimes awkward situation of being alone with a man, but of having to deal a drunk man. Plus, I find it redeems Willoughby just a little. Of course, that could be my soft spot for literary bad boys rearing its head.

Jan 20, 2011, 8:30pm Top

Oh, well, who doesn't like a literary bad boy?

Jan 20, 2011, 8:34pm Top

I just finished last night as well. I had forgotten Margaret even existed--had you asked me prior to this re-read, I would have said there were only the two sisters, and that after seeing the new bbc version on tv last year! She is rather a non-entity though, isn't she? And I had completely forgotten how Willoughby came to Elinor when Marianne was ill.

I'm going to try and watch both bbc versions and the Ang Lee over the next week, to compare.

Edited: Jan 20, 2011, 11:26pm Top

I've only just gotten to chapter 32 and as it's my first reading of S&S, you lot are all way ahead of me so I keep shutting my eyes tight every time I see mention of Marianne and Brandon, even though I've seen Ang Lee's movie, albeit so long ago that I only remember it vaguely.

Now... at the risk of being stoned to death, or at least being called insensitive, I'd like to say that I find Marianne to be insufferable at this point. That wretch Willoughby has sent her back her letters with his own heartless note, and while I can see how upsetting that would be, Marianne's reaction just gets on my nerves. Truth be told, she's gotten on my nerves from the very beginning and I just want to slap her around a little to knock some sense into her. But I have to ask myself: would that be because she reminds me of how silly I've been with my own various passions in life? Hmmm. Now from the distance of my great maturity (being ironic here), I find myself to be more like Elinor in some ways, and I suppose Marianne must get on her nerves as well sometimes, although Miss Austen hasn't indicated that clearly anywhere so far. Or have I missed something?

Jan 21, 2011, 12:13am Top

#72: I agree with you on Marianne. I often wanted to give her a slap and tell her to grow up.

Jan 21, 2011, 4:12am Top

Well, she is only 16. How mature were you at that age?

Jan 21, 2011, 4:39am Top

I am angry with myself about my reaction on Brandon on this third read - I was a big fan, I still like him and I was all prepared to making him my favorite character once again... And he certainly IS a good man. But for the first time I detected some selfishness. Maybe I have become more distrusting generally since my last read, assuming always the worst? As I said, I am really unhappy with this reaction. *sigh*

I doubt that hearing Willoughby's side of the story would have softened my heart and make me forgive him. Okay, so he did have feelings for Marianne, but his intentions in the beginning were not honorable and his behaviour in London was cowardly. "But my bride told me to write those sentences" isn't really an excuse. He could have sent a second note later and explain everything in his own words.

I always wondered how Elinor and Mrs Dashwood could allow Marianne so much time more or less alone with Willoughby. I believe in P&P it was always important that at least one sister was present. In those times this must have made her practically uneligible for other young men. Okay, there weren't any and luckily for her there was still the Colonel.
(Wasn't it in Gone with the Wind where Rhett Butler had been driving in a chaise with a young woman - and nothing else - and then refused to marry her on the grounds that nothing had happened, which left her reputation ruined forever?)

Jan 21, 2011, 2:57pm Top

#75 For Gone with the Wind, if I remember correctly, the major issue was that they were out alone after dark that ruined the girl's reputation.

As for Marianne being alone with Willoughby, while they may have had privacy in a room in the house, they were never really alone in private until the point where he leaves her. While they do go alone on their carriage ride, because it was open and in public and they traveled during the day so not so scandalous. Basically when it comes to scandalous behaviour, if Elinor isn't concerned about it, you're probably safe. :D

Jan 21, 2011, 4:47pm Top

Back to Smiler69's reflections, I think Austen agrees, but uses the good sense of Elinor, among other things, to bring her around instead of slapping her around. It wouldn't really be nice to slap her around.


Jan 21, 2011, 7:23pm Top

It wouldn't really be nice to slap her around.
Of course I didn't mean that in a literal sense!

In the meantime, I don't understand what part of Willoughby's re-telling of his story to Elinor makes his behaviour any less reprehensible. That his feelings for Marianne were genuine nobody can say for sure. Am I simply meant to take Miss Austen's word for it? And even if they were, the fact is his intentions and actions were not those of a man who should so easily be forgiven. To forgive and forget is a noble thing to be sure, but could Elinor be too good to be true?

Jan 21, 2011, 9:19pm Top


Well, I was more mature than Marianne at 16. One night - when I was 16 - my HS boyfriend was talking about how we'd get married someday, and I remember thinking "well, that's hardly likely." Not too romantic, me. I did not marry my HS boyfriend - for the record. LOL
I would probably give Marianne a sharp smack too, just to get her out of the hysterics. It's very effective, usually. Then I'd take good care of her. The "excess of sensibility" is something that really bugs me. I am definitely more of an Elinor type.
This time around I am getting huge enjoyment out of Elinor. She's really a lot more feisty than I remember.

Jan 21, 2011, 9:41pm Top

79- I was more mature than Marianne at age 16 too, but I did wear my heart on my sleeve, so to speak. If I was falling in love with someone, it was easy to see, and everyone knew it. I identified with Marianne because of that. She has strong feelings and doesn't feel the need to hide them to be a proper lady.

Then...I got my heart broken a few times and grew up and became more like Elinor, haha...
I really enjoyed this reading of S&S because I could identify with both sisters.

I've noticed that most people don't choose S&S as their favorite Austen, which surprises me, now that I've read it. It was a lot better than I remembered.

Jan 21, 2011, 10:22pm Top

Fascinating discussion. I first read Sense and Sensibility years ago, then a reread a few years ago when I found it boring. I enjoyed it much more this time, as I found it quite witty. But I'm one of those whose view of the book has forever been coloured by the wonderful film adaptation with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.

On the age gaps, I imagine they must have been quite common at the time. Women were expected to marry young, even early 20s might have been a bit past it. Even the "young" men in the novel are in their mid 20s. It probably took that time for men to establish themselves if they had a church or army career, and be able to provide for a wife, or I imagine in those days of lower life expectancy, more men (and sometimes women) would come into an inheritance from a father or other relative. I'm always startled by age references in Jane Austen - at 41, I'm probably older than Mrs Dashwood (I think the horrible brother isn't her son, he has the same father, but if I've got that wrong she would be a few years older).

Jan 21, 2011, 10:25pm Top

I read it years ago. I'm 27 pages away from finishing this time. It's been an interesting experience reading it on an iPhone application.

Jan 21, 2011, 10:28pm Top

The father was married twice, and the son was a product of the first marriage. That was part of the rationalization for stiffing the sisters despite the father's request.

One of the commentators in the Norton Critical Edition said that that movie was an example of the 'Harlequinization' (I think) of Jane Austen. It opened, we are told, at the cottage and was mostly the story of the romantic couple. I still would like to see it.

I was thinking that the Widow Dashwood would be a good figure to respond with when one of those who-in-literature-do-you-have-a-crush-on queries is posted, but I'd always have to point out that I was likely too old for her. I do believe she was precisely located at age 40.


Jan 21, 2011, 10:31pm Top

#75, I believe a similar situation unfolds in The Age of Innocence, orthere is at least hint of it.

#65, 78 the return of Willoughby mirrors some of the returns of characters in P&P; and this is one of the plot devices the Austen learns to do better, at least in my opinion. Willoughby's return seems pointless in the end while the returning of characters in P&P is much better handled and drive the plot more. I agree with Smiler here. Why bring him back to plead his case, if you're going to do such a poor job of pleading his case. It ends up meaning very little.

Jan 21, 2011, 10:34pm Top

It helped both of the sisters let him go, and it opened up a better opportunity for the author to give him a few final jabs.


Jan 21, 2011, 10:36pm Top

The sisters seemed to have quite let him go.....and he seemed pretty much down for the count to me. For me, it was a bit of a needless bludgeoning.

Jan 21, 2011, 11:02pm Top

I don't want to reread it just now to be sure, but I don't think they had. I think Elinor kept in mind to the end, but she was able to unload her emotions about him as she pondered his message and as she edited the story for telling to her sister and to her mother.


Jan 21, 2011, 11:52pm Top

To answer an earlier question, at 16 I was a lot more mature in some ways, and in other ways I was just as silly as Marianne, which probably explains at least partly why she gets on my nerves so much.

Willoughby reminds me of a good-for-nothing bf I went out with briefly who relied on his charm to get his way and brought me nothing but grief. Years later he still continues to hound me and tries to convince me that he's an angel of loving kindness. Just shut up, grow a spine, and move on already! I wasted so many good years making myself sick over inappropriate romantic choices and have little patience for all that melodrama anymore.

Jan 22, 2011, 2:25am Top

#83 - I am not sure I agree with "Harlequinization". I thought the film was pretty well done. There are parts that don't quite work, but I liked it over all. The film begins with John Dashwood at his father's deathbed, then establishes the conflict between Fanny and the second family, as well as the relationship between Edward and Elinor, all before moving to the cottage.

I finished the book tonight while waiting at a restaurant for friends. They felt bad they were late, I didn't mind a bit. I will review tomorrow.

Jan 22, 2011, 2:29am Top

Thank you. I'll have to get the film and reread the article around the time I watch it.


Jan 22, 2011, 3:34am Top

>78 Smiler69:: That {Willoughby's} feelings for Marianne were genuine nobody can say for sure. Am I simply meant to take Miss Austen's word for it?


And I agree with Robert. Marianne wasn't 100% over Willoughby. She needed that last bit of reassurance. Remember the scene where she and Elinor are taking a walk after returning home? Elinor is debating whether or how to tell Marianne about Willoughby's visit, and decides to tell her everything after Marianne says, more than once, that she would feel much better if she could just know that he had actually had feelings for her.

>72 Smiler69:: You're not being insensitive at all. Marianne is reacting like a typical teenager who's just been dumped - self-absorbed and melodramatic. Even if you have empathy for someone in that situation, it can be annoying to live with. :)

>75 Deern:: I had a different reaction to Brandon this time around too. It bugged me that he was so immediately in love with Marianne. I know she reminded him of his former love, but it seemed like there wasn't much more to it than that, at least at first. It made him seem a little obsessed. I have no problem seeing them as a happy couple eventually, and I do think he's a good man ... I don't know. Maybe the 35 year old pining after the pretty 16 year old he doesn't even know just seems a bit creepy. But I still like him! How much that has to do with the fact that I now see him as Alan Rickman I can't say. :p

Edited: Jan 22, 2011, 12:24pm Top

Part of the issue with reining Marianne in is that it isn't Elinor's place. She has no authority. It is her mother's place to do so, and Elinor several times makes strong attempts to urge her mother to do so. However, Mrs. Dashwood also has that excess of sensibility inherited by Marianne and rather than exercising control over Marianne, merely exacerbates the over-emotionality.

ETA one of my joys during this read was really catching Austen's snarky little comments spread throughout. I kept thinking, "Oh, I should mark this one for the quotes" and then, alas, reading on and losing it.

Jan 23, 2011, 12:05am Top

one of my joys during this read was really catching Austen's snarky little comments spread throughout.

I have to say that's what I enjoyed the most, period. I finished it yesterday and the "and they lived happily ever after" ending just got on my nerves, especially since it felt like I'd skipped over a whole chapter or something. So what happened? Somebody just snapped their fingers and Marianne decided she was head over heels in love with Brandon finally?

Jan 23, 2011, 12:58am Top

#93 I think - Marianne decided to marry Brandon, and then gradually fell in love with him - due to not being able to do things half way and due to his being really, a nice guy. IMHO, anyway.

I finished yesterday as well, and reviewed in a long winded and disorganized fashion here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/105934#2465270.

Jan 23, 2011, 8:16pm Top

I'm so glad that I read this as a part of a group read. I have never read a Jane Austen novel, and I have to admit that I had a little trouble getting into this one. But reading through your comments made me appreciate some parts of the novel more. I definitely liked the supporting characters more than the main characters. Elinor and Marianne just felt flat to me at times. I felt like I got to know them best when they were faced with challenges - an illness or a betrayal. I'm anxious to compare this one to Pride and Prejudice.

Jan 23, 2011, 9:00pm Top

#93/94 nittnut, I completely agree. In fact, Austen as much as says so:
"...her regard and her society restored his {Colonel Brandon's} mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness: and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby."

This is the 4th or 5th time I've read S&S (just finished today) and, I must admit, I've always been troubled by Marianne ending up with Colonel Brandon. Strangely, I minded less this time. Perhaps because, although I do actually believe she ended up marrying more because she felt it was the right thing than from love, her character is one who doesn't really have many in between emotions - mostly, she either loves or she hates, just to different extremes. I also realised on this reading that she does, in fact, have quite a lot in common with Colonel Brandon, not just in tastes, but in emotions. Colonel Brandon merely has an extra decade of life and disappointment to temper him. Also, a quote from Elinor regarding Marianne early in the book:
"I should hardly call her a lively girl; she is very earnest, very eager in all she does - sometimes talks a great deal, and always with animation - but she is not often really merry."

Re Willoughby turning up at the Palmer's and Elinor forgiving him. I don't feel that this is any more out of place than many of the situations (Lucy Steele marrying Robert Ferras very conveniently?). As somone mentioned way back, I think, I think these plot devices just show up Austen's gothic novel background (which is why Northanger Abbey is so great.*

Also, as far as Elinor forgiving him goes. I don't think she does, so much as she pities him. He's lost her sister and all through his own doing. She certainly doesn't approve of him (I've lost the quote of her referring to him as being ultimately very selfish). Remember that they were good friends until he left and he is clearly a very charming man. It is only natural to want to fogive and give the benefit of the doubt to someone you have been very fond of. She thinks herself out of it by reminding herself of what he has done.

Two more thoughts. Firstly, every time I read this, I feel rather sorry for Margaret, who gets dissmissed as unworthy of attention by Austen in chapter I:
"Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humoured, well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair equal her sisters at a more advanced period of her life."

...and that is pretty much the longest paragraph mentioning her in the entire book! One of the things I love most about Jane Austen is her wonderfully caustic sense of humour, but I can't help feeling sorry for some of the characters!

Secondly, re the sister's relationship, for me, one of the best part of the books (second, perhaps, only to the scene in London in which Edward comes to see Elinor only to find Lucy Steele already visiting, which is wonderfully embarrasing) is the scene in which Elinor goes up to find Marrianne after she receives Willoughby's letter in London. It is utterly believable. This is the first time we really see Elinor's full emotions cracking through and the first time we see her in tears. She is so angry with how Willoughby has treated her sister. As an elder sister (to a younger sister nothing like Marianne), I can certainly see the fury a letter like that would induce and the aweful hopelessness of not being able to do anything to help one of (if not the) most important person in your life.

...oh and a word for Mr John Dashwood being the best bit character. I wish I could find the quote I picked to exemplify it, but I can't, I shall have to come back with it later ;o)

* Can I recommend that anyone who's not read Northanger Abbey yet read a gothic novel first eg Fanny Burney, Ann Radcliffe first if you can find one? It makes all the difference...

Jan 24, 2011, 10:05am Top

I've posted my review of Sense and Sensibility. I was going to make it snarkier, but I toned it down so as not to offend anyone. Here it is.

Jan 24, 2011, 12:51pm Top

I finished Sense and Sensibility yesterday. I've read several of her others, but it was the first time for this one. I have to say I like Pride and Prejudice and Emma better.

Like a few others have said, Marianne's change at the end seemed sudden to me too. Or maybe rushed is a better word? Believable, but more of an afterthought.

Jan 24, 2011, 1:00pm Top

I'm not sure I agree with the rushed ending camp. It may feel rushed compared to more modern novels where the author is, perhaps, more interested in what happens next, but compared to the rest of her novels, I don't really think that S&S is...

Jan 24, 2011, 2:24pm Top

I've just finished S&S. I first read it about 40 years ago and, since it was one of my least favorites of Austen novels, never picked it up again. Reading it this time in a group read has been a great experience.
What struck me most was the plot line of Willoughby seducing Brandon's ward. Austen must have really found this useful as she used it again in her next novel. I was surprised at how little impact Willoughby's behavior had on Elinor and Marianne. It seems like the abandonment of this young girl and his child should have been a more shocking offense than trifling with Marianne's feelings.

Jan 24, 2011, 3:39pm Top

About the rushed ending - I think flissp is right, we expect something different from our novels these days. I just finished Persuasion this weekend and it also felt rushed at the end. But really she had told us the story she was interested in and the ending was just the conclusion of that story. It reads strange to me because I want to see the characters in their new situation and she just summarizes it all in a line or two.

Jan 24, 2011, 6:23pm Top

I second the recommendation on reading a gothic novel before reading Northanger Abbey. It makes the book that much better.

As for the plot point of Willoughby seducing Colonel Brandon's ward, what I always forget is that Colonel Brandon admits that they dueled over the issue (which was a big deal because, if I remember correctly, dueling was illegal at that time). Austen only obliquely touches on the issue, but if you let your imagination run a little bit, can you imagine how awesome that scene would be?

Jan 24, 2011, 6:42pm Top

100 but isn't it very human to be more bothered about something that touches our loved ones than more heinous offences against people we've never met?

Jan 24, 2011, 10:19pm Top

#96, and 99,

Re: the rushed ending camp, which I founded and stand wholeheartedly by. Just a quick question, fliss: What page does the above quote about Marianne falling in love with Brandon occur on? I'd wager it is in the last 20-30 pages. If I'm wrong, well, I'll pitch my camp elsewhere. On the other hand, when I've spent hundreds of pages over Willoughby and all of the rollercoastering, a few dozen to change an entire life perspective and demeanor demeanor and found a life-long relationship on seems a little out of balance.

I know, I'm like a dog with a bone!

Jan 24, 2011, 11:32pm Top

#104 I agree with you Mac. That didn't sit well with me either. Have you read my review yet?

Jan 25, 2011, 11:49am Top

#102: I noticed this for the first time as well. And both came out of it unwounded. It didn't sound like Brandon really had the intention to do him any severe physical harm, more like he did it "because it was expected".

Northanger Abbey is the only one of the 'big' Austen novels I haven't read yet. I read The Castle of Otranto last year which is said to be the first gothic novel. Is this enough preparation? Because I don't feel I need to read more of those. So I assume NA will be full of unlogic plot twists...

Jan 25, 2011, 11:59am Top

#104 Oh, I'll agree it ends quickly (and you're right, while I don't have the book to hand, I'm pretty sure that that quote is in the last 5 pages in fact ;o)), all I'm saying is that to me, it didn't feel rushed and it's actually one of the slower endings compared to her others - Elinor and Edward get engaged several chapters before the end.

To me, the part of the story revolving around Marianne isn't so much about romance as it is about her character developing and learning to consider other people's feelings besides her own, so the fact that she's married off to Brandon in a few paragraphs is unimportant. Maybe this is why I mind less ;o)

Jan 25, 2011, 12:06pm Top

#106 I'll agree with the "because it was expected"...

Re gothic novels as preparation for Northanger Abbey, I've not read The Castle of Otranto, but I'd imagine that's probably enough - the reason I suggested it is just that it gives you a better insight into exactly what Jane Austen is parodying...

Jan 25, 2011, 12:17pm Top

This thread is making me want to re-read S&S, despite my initial reaction to my first reading many years ago, which was about on par with the posts here.

I want to share these lines on Austen by W. H. Auden (written in a poem addressed to Byron):

You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of 'brass,'
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.

Edited: Jan 25, 2011, 12:31pm Top

106> I was going to recommend Otranto, actually, for that purpose! I love that book, it's so crazy and weird and fun. It's almost definitely one that Catherine has read - I think she even refers to it obliquely.

If you want to read one that Catherine has most assuredly read and refers to specifically, you'll want to try Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho. It's quite a bit longer (Otranto is relatively short) and tedious, but it's also probably one of the best known from the early Gothic period.

Actually Udolpho is one of those books that I can only read in a group setting, because I like to bitch so much about the main character - Lucy? I think? her name implies lightness and purity and all - and it's no fun to complain to my dogs, who have no idea what I'm talking about.

(Also: Northanger Abbey is much funnier if you have at least a passing familiarity with common gothic tropes. There's plenty to enjoy about it if you don't, but they really do make it more interesting. Since I read it, I've felt that those who think it's a crummy novel must simply not recognize the parody and take the whole thing as far too earnest.)

Jan 25, 2011, 4:35pm Top

>109 Cynara:: Great lines from Auden -- there were a lot of supporters and a lot of critics who lined up for and against the novel when it was published and in the decades after, just as there are now. I think these lines are a great reminder that, for her time, Austen was acknowledging things in her novels that didn't *really* get talked about, at least not in "good society". She pushes the envelope, but not that much, and especially not so much that her work becomes unsellable. She is walking a fine line between writing her mind and writing what would get her a paycheck -- she was trying to earn money by her craft, after all.

Everyone in early nineteenth century England knew that marriage was a socio-economic arrangement -- very few people wanted to talk about it. I think that is also a factor in how she characterizes the change in relationship between Marianne and Brandon.

Speaking of that (Mac, 104, returning to the bone here), can we look at Marianne's shift of mind in terms of trauma? This is a young woman who, for the first time, has just gotten smacked by consequence. She learned, by Willoughby's rejection of her, that actions and expectations can have negative consequences (remember, she has been insulated from that knowledge her entire privileged life). She then underwent a severe illness, connected with her... weakened spirits, I guess... but severe none the less. This combination of sudden forced enlightenment and physical effect could be seen as traumatic, which would give a rational context to her reversal of perspective (or, as Elinor sees it, her coming to sense) after she survives the trauma. Granted, from our 21st century perspective, what she experiences isn't that big of a deal -- and even in Austen's context we are given an alternate example of dealing with heartbreak, in Elinor -- but for a young, cosseted, insulated girl in the nineteenth century, this stuff is Trauma (yup, that's a capital T).

Of course, from society's perspective, perhaps Marianne has simply "learnt her lesson"?

I could be getting a bit too English major on this. Forgive me. :)

Jan 25, 2011, 6:42pm Top

I just wanted to share the following from an exchange I had with my mum about Jane Austen since I always respect her opinion on such matters. Here is what she had to say when I complained about S&S being a bit limited too romantic for my liking:

Jane Austen: yes, I read her, years and years and years ago. I remember the irony best; the expression "chick-lit" didn't exist when I read her and made me smile because it's quite apt. That said, considering the times, the only 'employment' open to women of her social class was marriage so that pretty much circumscribed what her themes could be, and romantic love was truly a bonus in those kinds of arrangements. Virginia Woolf does a good take on the women writers of that generation in A Room of One's Own - how, given the times again, most of that writing was being done in the drawing room with others coming in and going out. Not exactly a setting in which you can explore your inner world at will; plus, how much travelling could a woman do out in the wild, wild world?

Of course I already knew all this, but helps put it back into perspective again.

Jan 25, 2011, 6:48pm Top

#111: I don't know how I managed to skip over your message before posting mine above, and just wanted to say that you make some very good points.

One thing I'm very curious about as it keeps coming back in many 'period' novels is why it is that so many people (especially women, it seems) died or almost died, from what for us nowadays would probably just be a common cold? Is it to do with poor hygiene or lack of heating? Does anyone know about this?

Jan 25, 2011, 7:21pm Top

I don't think a lot of people did. Marianne is the only one I can think of in JA who actually did come close to dying, and she'd been neglecting herself for a long time.

Nevertheless, any illness could turn dangerous and there was no way of knowing what would. Think of a world where no-one knows about bacteria/viruses, cleanliness is more pleasant but no-one knows how important hygiene is, even the rich have a poor diet (fresh fruit and vegetables very hard to come by at certain times of year, though this was starting to change in JA's time), a lot of women died in childbirth, and most children died before puberty.

Jan 25, 2011, 7:29pm Top

What led me to ask was that even nowadays we don't have a cure for the common cold and nobody dies from that. So it just surprises me that this seems to be a recurring theme, including the frequency with which young children were dying. But you're right, hadn't thought about diet and such. I'm currently reading Oliver Twist and there are people dying from all sorts of causes in that story, whether natural or not! I recently also read Egon Schiele's biography and he died at 28 from the Spanish flu in 1918. I know that was a pandemic but again, nowadays there might be casualties, but nothing like they had then.

Jan 25, 2011, 9:58pm Top

Yep,smiler, I read your review and thought you were pretty kind given some of the comments you've made. I expected more of the negative.

#96,99,104,and 107 - aha! a slight, begrudging admission! But if the point of Marianne's story is to get her to change her perspective and change her behavior, why is so little time given to the transformation and in describing the new Marianne. beserene did a nice job of ticking off how the 'trauma' of her situation could be seen as explaining her change of heart and behavior, but so little is said about her thoughts and inner life, as compared to the rest of the book, that it feels like short shrift. Again, my point is only that, while I agree with you all about what is going on here, I thought Austen more deftly handled her characters and story in P&P and Emma than in S&S. The amount of time and the amount of the character's inner life exposed throughout the transition is very balanced and more palatable for it.

Jan 25, 2011, 10:03pm Top

I'm surprised at the amount of discussion this book is generating - not a complaint, I love it! I've rarely been a part of a group read with such interesting discussions. (Middlemarch is the only other one that comes to mind!)

Keep it coming! :)

Jan 26, 2011, 1:10am Top

#113/115 What Marianne has is described as a putrid fever. I don't know what that would be - what we would call it - but I am thinking bronchitis, pneumonia, strep (scarlet fever), influenza - things we would treat with antibiotics and decongestants today and wouldn't be as big a deal. Not to mention the treatments (leeches, etc.) being often more harmful than the actual ailment.

#109 LOVE the Auden poem!

Jan 26, 2011, 7:40am Top

While I also thought the ending was too abrupt, I do buy into the change of heart of Marianne. In a way I think she may always have had the possibility of loving Brandon, but she didn't see through his age and experience. As some of the other posts already said, they had a lot in common (also for example that she very much appreciates that he has kept true to his first love). And her reaction to when she finds out that Brandon is in love with her, is quite strong - in any case it does not leave her unmoved. This dislike may well be turned into love when Willoughby leaves her more sober. So even if I would have liked a more drawn out ending, I do understand it.

And as for the 'weakness' of Edward, I think it's understandable that he fell in love an proposed to Lucy when he was so young, and she so beautiful and nearby. And his behaviour to Elinor afterwards only shows his honourable character: he made a promise which in those times he had to keep unless the woman let him loose, and he honours that. He stands up to his mother and is even disinherited when they find out he is secretly engaged to Lucy - hardly a choice that shows weakness. Yes, he's not very suave and flashy, and prefers to avoid the limelight, but I think that can be a very attractive person too. Although I can be swept away when reading about Darcy, probably an Edward would personally fit me better...

And I also recentely read Mysteries of Udolpho - that was interesting and at times very funny, but too long and slow. It literally took me half a year to get through it (2 pages every night - perfect to sleep on), so I would recommend Otranto if that one is shorter! I haven't reread NA, but I will definitely now that I've read a gothic novel!

Love these discussions!

Jan 26, 2011, 5:50pm Top

I'm about 50 pages away from finishing, and have enjoyed the read and the discussion! (echoing what a lot of readers have said here)

I will say that I've had to intersperse reading S and S with other books--S and S just goes on a little bit, doesn't it? Still, I've enjoyed reading another Austen (I've tried before, and failed to finish).

Karen O.

Edited: Jan 27, 2011, 8:49am Top

#116 ;o) I don't know, I think that we see Marianne starting to transform much earlier than the last few pages. She realises how self involved she's been when Elinor admits to having known all along that Lucy was engaged to Edward, she just takes a while to process it...

Anyway, on one point we're in complete agreement - Pride and Prejudice is definitely the better book of the two, despite being the earliest drafted - it's my second favourite (possibly first for caustic humour) and I'm really looking forward to my umpteenth reread!

I think I'm going to have to get Otranto myself now!

Edited: Jan 28, 2011, 5:20am Top

Finished S&S yesterday - enjoyed it a lot - specially trying to notice the contrast between Elinor and Marianne which are so striking - how Austen recommends the emotions and conduct of Elinor and scolds Marianne.

I like Mrs. Dashwood concluding thoughts - when it is revealed that Elinor too were deeply in love but out of concern for the others kept her emotions inside. I think Austen should have gotten more out of the scene - the comical moment, when the truth about Edward is finally revealed. Well, Emma Thompson did a good job with it.

A funny quote - Mariannes book-reading-plan in her own words:

By reading only six hours a-day, I shall gain in the course of a twelve-month a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want.

Elinor honoured her for a plan originated so nobly as this; though smiling to see the same eager fancy which had been leading her to the extreme of languid indolence and selfish repining, now at work in introducing excess into a scheme of such rational employment and virtuous self-control.

From Willoughby-lover to book-lover - welcome to Librarything Marianne - "75 books in 1811" - :)

Jan 28, 2011, 8:48am Top

Re: Gothic novels, another really fun one is Lewis' The Monk, which is being made into a movie with Vincent Cassel.

Jan 28, 2011, 11:51am Top

123> That is my #1 favorite early Gothic, but I would still recommend Udolpho first. The Monk is amazing for how over the top everything is, and it does come up in NA, but the Radcliffe book is the one that Catherine seems to be modeling her life after more.

In fact, check out the Wikipedia bit about references:


It lists several others, including Radcliffe's The Italian (ick yuck no, too much gazing at the sublime and picturesque qualities of mountains and valleys in that one for me).

Jan 28, 2011, 12:37pm Top

Are there other novels that have taken the story further? I know of lots of P&P sequels, but never seen one for S&S.

Personally, I think Marianne and Brandon stories could be pretty interesting, given his background and her inclination for sudden enthusiasms, whereas I'm struggling to think of more for Elinor and Edward. Living happily ever after with your soulmate might be a dream come true, but it makes the writer's job pretty difficult.

Jan 28, 2011, 2:24pm Top

I know there's one about Margaret called The Third Sister, one about Willoughby & Eliza's love child called Eliza's Daughter, and one that follows the Steele sisters called Brightsea.
I haven't read any of them. I've been a little curious about some of the Austen sequels, but I always think I'd end up disappointed. Has anyone read and enjoyed any S&S sequels?

Edited: Jan 28, 2011, 2:33pm Top

Just checked Amazon - there's also one called Elinor and Marianne. And I was surprised to see that Amanda Grange, who wrote Mr. Darcy's Diary (and "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre"!), also has one called Colonel Brandon's Diary and a whole series of other diaries: Mr. Knightley's Diary, Edmund Bertram's Diary, Captain Wentworth's Diary and Wickham's Diary.

Edited: Feb 5, 2011, 3:33pm Top

By the way, I would very much recommend, for fans of Austen or any other literature of that era, the book What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool. It's a really interesting guide to daily life in 19th century England. It answers questions and explains attitudes of the time concerning all kinds of subjects - marriage, money, holidays, food, fashion, servants, law, dances, sex, illness, etiquette, religion - and it uses a lot of fun examples from books by authors like Austen, Dickens, the Brontes, Hardy, Eliot & Trollope. (Warning - if you're anything like me, those quotes will make you want to add a bunch of books to your wishlists and tbr piles. :)
If you've ever wondered when Michaelmas was, or just how rich Mr. Darcy's ten thousand a year made him, or

> 113, 118: what kind of "putrid fever" Marianne had, (just looked it up in the book - it was typhus)

then you'll probably enjoy reading this.

Jan 28, 2011, 4:58pm Top

#128 - Thanks! That sounds really interesting. It would add a lot to the books to have just a little background knowledge of the times. Adding it to the list.

As for continuations of the stories of JA's characters, I have never been impressed, and usually very annoyed, by the ones I have read. I steer clear. :)

Jan 29, 2011, 9:28am Top

Just started my reread of S&S, and finished Ch 1. Since I didn't get around to buying a hard copy or ordering one on-line, I downloaded an iflow book and started it on my phone. Compared to P&P, which I reread a couple of months ago (and jumps straight in with wicked social commentary : "It is a truth universally acknowledged ..."), this was off to a slower start, I felt, with descriptions of the characters and situations. But it could be a function of this being my first e-book.

I think the only adaptation I've seen of S&S is the Emma Thompson one, but my favourite P&P was the mini-series with Colin Firth.

Jan 29, 2011, 6:56pm Top

I just finished reading Sense and Sensibility for the first time. I tried it once before when I was in my twenties and didn't make it, but I absolutely loved it this time around.

I think I started to love this book at the part where Willoughby comes to the Dashwood's cottage and speaks to Marianne and he leaves and Marianne is obviously upset. Instead of Mrs. Dashwood or Elinnor asking her what happened they kept talking and talking and talking about what could have happened. I kept thinking to myself someone go ask her. In today's world it would have been all over Facebook for the world to see by the time he had left the lane. At that point I was hooked.

In an earlier post someone mentioned how when discussing the book with her mother her mother said women didn't have a careers back then and it was their job to marry well, that was so true. It seems so silly to us today but back then that was what you were brought up to do.

I can't wait to check out some of the movies that people have mentioned throughout the post.

I am excited about reading Pride and Prejudice since many people seem to like that more. I also tried when I was younger to read that and didn't make it through, but I am sure I will this time.

Jan 29, 2011, 7:04pm Top

#128 That sounds like a great book. I'm off to see if my library has a copy, but like you said I'm sure it will make by TBR pile much bigger, oh well.

Jan 29, 2011, 11:10pm Top

That was a fun book. I'd like to own a copy some day.

Jan 30, 2011, 10:29pm Top

I am FINALLY starting S&S, and look forward to reading it with many of the thoughts and ideas expressed here in mind.

Edited: Jan 31, 2011, 1:27am Top

Still finding S&S not as funny as P&P, and still feel it could be a function of the medium; I feel I'm going through the book faster than usual (especially compared to last year's read of the annotated P&P, which took a whole month, pretty much).

I've got to about chapter 10, where Willoughby has just made an entrance. At this point, I can't help feeling that Elinor should have snagged Colonel Brandon.

Feb 2, 2011, 9:04am Top

Well, I finished last night. Reading through every ones thoughts, I figured out, I need to read this a second time. It was my first read through and I was unspoiled, so as much I could appreciate the writing, I was reading for plot, not knowing what was coming. Not reading and picking up all the subtleties.

I did find long sentences and major use of pronouns, to the point I had to reread some passages just to make sure I knew who she was referring to. I was a little creeped out by the Marianne Brandon age difference, but different era. I was not all the shocked she ended up with him, as was said earlier - he was a constant in their lives and someone she finally realized will be there for her, and someone who already loved her. Although, I was fooled by Lucy. Thinking her a silly young thing not realizing her sly nature. I didn't ever think she was talking to Elinor as anything but a friend, not to get a reaction about Edward, silly me I guess.
I can't wait to read the other books. It will be my second reading of P&P so maybe I will pick up more than I did first time round - the rest will all be new to me and if this book is any indication, I will have to read them all again.

Feb 2, 2011, 1:35pm Top

#136 I find that to be one of my favourite things about Austen because I find something new to enjoy every time. However, I do envy you the fun of reading (almost) all of them for the first time.

Feb 2, 2011, 2:37pm Top

Finished S&S and even though it isn't one of my favourite's, it was better 2nd time around. However, some things don't change like the most hated character being Fanny & wishing that John Dashwood would grow a backbone and think for himself. I know he is selfish as well, but Fanny's influence makes him so much worse *grits teeth.
I like the fact that the sisters are so close even though they have very different temperaments. Their behaviour to a very similar situation is completely opposite with Elinor showing too little emotion and Marianne's OTT displays. I wonder if constantly dealing with both her mother and Marianne's emotional displays causes Elinor to suppress her own feelings in most instances, esp. with Lucy's 'friendly' comments about her relationship with Edward.
I enjoyed reading this again and look forward to P&P, since it's my favourite Austen book.

Feb 2, 2011, 4:54pm Top

I was talking with a friend last night, and she was talking about characterization. She had read an essay talking about how writers should not spend a lot of time describing their characters. It said that if you can't tell who a character is by what they say and do in the story, you don't know that character. It won't help to know they have dusky locks or stormy gray eyes. It made me think of S&S. We know very quickly that Elinor is Sense and Marianne is Sensibility, but for all the description JA gives us of their looks, they could easily look just like Emma Thompson and Kate Winslett if we want them to.

Feb 2, 2011, 8:39pm Top

>139 nittnut: That's a really good point. Austen gives us excellent characterizations without a lot of "telling" - it is almost all shown through dialogue.

I finished the book today and will come back with some thoughts on it soon. But I disagree with #138 above - I don't like Fanny much but I really LOATHE Lucy. Fanny is selfish and self-absorbed, while Lucy actively aims to wound Elinor. And that, I simply cannot forgive!

Feb 2, 2011, 10:55pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 3, 2011, 11:03am Top

I finished yesterday - and if I had read S&S first, I would probably swear off of Austen. Thankfully, I read P&P first, so I know what she's capable of.

I just really didn't mesh with this book. It felt like it was more "tell" than "show" to me - and seemed to be lacking in dialog. At least, when I think back on it, I remember "so and so commented on this, and mentioned that" but I don't remember as much "said Elinor" or "Lucy remarked". However, reading the comments here is making me think I may have missed something. I plan on giving S&S another chance sometime soon.

Feb 3, 2011, 11:14am Top

Laughing at the idea of Marianne wasting all day on Facebook.

Feb 3, 2011, 12:03pm Top

Here are some of my thoughts after my first time reading Sense and Sensibility. I've posted a review on my personal threads and the book's LT page.

Regarding Marianne's change, when they leave Cleveland after her illness (Chapter 46), it is said of her taking leave of Mrs Jennings (whom she had previously felt only disdain for): "...a leave of Mrs. Jennings, one so earnestly grateful, so full of respect and kind wishes as seemed due to her own heart from a secret acknowledgement of past inattention..." A little later, Marianne's "calmness of spirits" is mentioned, as well as her "composure of mind." All of this seems to support the argument that her illness effected a great change in her, and hence her change of heart towards Brandon is not so surprising or inexplicable.

I was gratified by Mrs. Dashwood's realization at the end of Chapter 47 that she had basically taken Elinor for granted, had given her emotions short shrift, as it were. But I really have little use for Mrs. D - she annoyed me more than Marianne did - she fed into Marianne's worst traits, justified them, excused them, and bolstered them. Bleh - don't like her!

I agree with many others that the secondary characters were wonderful and added much to the story, not just as plot devices or for color, but as a means for the reader to better understand Austen's own views.

And my two favorite lines:

"and because they were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical; but that did not signify. It was censure in common use, and easily given."

"Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition."

I look forward to re-reading Pride and Prejudice next month!

(When will the touchstones work again!?!?!)

Feb 3, 2011, 1:17pm Top

Oooh, the first of those quotes is one of my favourites too (and one I meant to quote on here ;o))

Edited: Feb 3, 2011, 2:27pm Top

I agree with many others that the secondary characters were wonderful and added much to the story

Ditto, but can someone please explain to me why Austen bothered to include a third sister? Margaret was barely mentioned, and didn't seem to be of any use in the story save for the walk she took with Marianne when the latter sprained her ankle and was 'saved' by Willoughby, that worthless wretched womanizing wanker.

(ETA: Tim said the touchstones should work again this afternoon.)

Feb 3, 2011, 2:43pm Top

>146 Smiler69: Ilana, That's a good question. In reading the book, I wondered the same thing. What's interesting (at least to me) is that in the film (Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet version) - which I watched again last night - Margaret is used to help illustrate Edward's character and how Elinor's feelings develop for him at Norland, as he helps move Margaret out of her grief and entertains her. But there is not a lot of that in the book, so one wonders why she exists at all. I'm interested if anyone else has any thoughts on this? If it were a more contemporary work, we might assume she was being set up for a sequel!

Feb 3, 2011, 3:05pm Top

Who knows? Maybe Jane Austen had in mind of writing a sequel and didn't get around to it? ;-)

I look forward to reading Pride and Prejudice which everyone has told me I'd enjoy more.

Touchstones are back!

Feb 3, 2011, 3:18pm Top

Yay for touchstones! I agree that P&P is better, as is Emma, which is the only other Austen I have read. Glad you are giving her another chance!

Feb 3, 2011, 3:28pm Top

S&S and Northanger Abbey are the only two Austens I really haven't enjoyed that much. Even Mansfield Park has its moments, despite its eminently smackable heroine.

On the other hand, P&P, Emma, and Persuasion are among the best and most delightful novels ever written by anyone.

Feb 4, 2011, 5:36am Top

Isn't Margaret mostly there to keep her mother company? If Margaret wasn't there, wouldn't the mother accompany Elinor and Marianne to London, thereby making it more difficult for the plot to work out? I can't remember the exact details (this calls for a reread :-) so I'm not sure whether this is indeed the case.

Or maybe it's just that Jane Austen thought it would be so much funnier if Elinor and Marianne stayed with Mrs Jennings!

Feb 4, 2011, 6:48pm Top

#151 Good point. It's possible that if it weren't for Margaret, Elinor and Marianne wouldn't have wanted to leave their mother alone. But still, poor thing, she could have been given a little bit more of a presence instead of just being used as a convenient prop!

Feb 4, 2011, 7:30pm Top

#151> I bet you are right! I ended up really liking the Mrs. Jennings character. Despite the poor treatment the women received from family, lots of friends helped the Dashwood women a lot. I just finished the book and really loved it. It was even better than I had remembered.

Feb 4, 2011, 7:57pm Top

I was reading a biography of Jane Austen a couple weeks ago, and there was a section in there that noted when her niece turned sixteen or so, Jane said she had reached an age where she could be interesting. I think Margaret is mostly overlooked because nothing really interesting can happen to her (at least form Austen's POV). She's too young for a good plot so she exists solely in the background. There is a brief mention at the end of S&S though that Margaret has now reached an age where she can attend dances and be teased by Mrs Jennings.

Feb 4, 2011, 8:51pm Top

Lol at #146: "Willoughby, that worthless wretched womanizing wanker"

Indeed he is. One thing I really didn't understand was Elinor's partial change of heart toward him after he "explained" his conduct with the (very) young lady. W. must have been excessively charming in person; I would have wanted to slap him, particularly since his later behavior repeated his earlier behavior. Disgusting in the extreme to be a cad and then to blame the girl. Ew.

At first I was terribly impatient with this book, having read the (to my mind) much superior Pand P and the delightful Emma first. However, as the book moved along, I liked it better and better, although the ending seemed a bit contrived, as did Marianne's turnaround. I did come to be very fond of Mrs. Jennings, who was really very good-hearted and kind. I think the book is well worth reading and enjoyable.

I'm looking forward to P and P as well. It's very enjoyable to see others' opinions and ideas; helps my own thinking.

Feb 5, 2011, 12:17pm Top

So.....the wife and I usually go to a movie on the weekends. There's not much out right now that we haven't seen. As I was scanning the descriptions of movies we haven't seen, I cam across this description of "From Prada to Nada." See if it might sound a little familiar.

Two sisters, one a young beauty who chooses passion over logic, the other a law "student whose fixed moral compass keeps her from following her desires, are uprooted from their luxurious home when their father suddenly passes away. Out of money and out of options, the women move into their Great Aunt Aurelia's modest, but lively home in the Latino-centric Boyle Heights neighborhood where they find themselves thrown into a world that, despite their heritage, seems completely foreign. Over time, they discover the beauty of the culture they once fought so desperately to hide. And in the process they find the one thing that had eluded them: love. "

Feb 5, 2011, 2:41pm Top

153: Billijean: I really liked Mrs. Jennings, too. She seemed so real next to all of the fakers and phonies in this book. Mrs. Jennings will just come out and say what she's thinking and feeling, but wants to think well of everyone.

The scene where she and Elinor are misunderstanding what Elinor and Brandon were discussing is classic, I think.

Karen O.

Feb 5, 2011, 3:30pm Top

>144 katiekrug:: Such great quotes. :)

>151 celiacardun:: I think you're right about why Margaret exists. Great point! I'd wondered about that too.

So interesting to read all the comments about the relative merits of Austen's books. I've always preferred S&S to Emma. Come to that, I prefer Mansfield Park to Emma too (despite Fanny Price's "smackability" :) In fact, until I last read it, I would've put "Northanger Abbey" last on the list, but now I'd put Emma there. I'm looking forward to reading it again to see if my opinion has changed at all. (Not that I didn't like Emma. "Least favorite" when it comes to Austen is a very relative term. I'd still pick my "least favorite" Austen over most other Victorian literature. :)

Feb 5, 2011, 3:39pm Top

158> I'd still pick my "least favorite" Austen over most other Victorian literature.

For what it's worth, Austen isn't Victorian literature! So no "other" needed. :D

I think she's right on the cusp of the change in style/theme between the earlier 18th century stuff and the Victorian, though.

Feb 5, 2011, 4:18pm Top

>159 keristars:: No, but she usually seems to get included in that umbrella, being closer in style to Victorian authors than Georgian ones. ("Regency" wouldn't include a lot of titles, but I think she'd be the undisputed champ there :)
But si, I should've said "19th century literature".

Edited: Feb 5, 2011, 5:00pm Top

Curse you Keri! :) Now I'm going to have this in my head all day. Pre- and Post-Austen authors and titles are flitting around in my head as I'm trying to read my Stieg Larsson book. "Well actually in a lot of ways her books remind me of ...", "But then she doesn't sound anything like ..."

Perhaps Austen just defies categorization. :)

Feb 7, 2011, 10:15am Top

#156 Was it any good? ;o)

Feb 7, 2011, 9:42pm Top

#162, We didn't go see that movie....looked pretty lame. We went to see True Grit a second time....superb....I loved The King's Speech but Bridges deserves the Oscar, hands down! Gotta read this guy's (Portis) westerns!

Feb 8, 2011, 1:00am Top

We saw True Grit this weekend too. Loved it. I'm still waiting for the book from the library. I grew up watching Rooster Cogburn westerns with my dad, so it was fun to watch Bridges in the character.

Feb 8, 2011, 3:32am Top

Now it's starting to get funny. Willoughby has just left on 'business' and Edward Ferrars has reappeared. The contrast between Marianne's sensibility and Elinor's sense is amusing and more marked.

"It is not everyone" said Elinor "who has your passion for dead leaves" (to Marianne)

Feb 8, 2011, 5:12am Top

#165: I am glad to know that someone (besides me) is still reading the book :)

Feb 8, 2011, 4:14pm Top

I'm still paying attention to the conversation, and I have two different productions of the novel on DVD to watch before the discussion is over.


Feb 8, 2011, 10:34pm Top

Yup, still going. Better put my foot down, though. When are we scheduled to finish? What's next? I'll have to pick up a copy.

So, one drawback of e-books - it's not so easy to gauge at a glance how much of a book you've read.

Feb 8, 2011, 10:47pm Top

#168: Nina, we had originally set a schedule of 6 weeks to read the book, finishing at the end of February and then starting Pride and Prejudice March 15.

Feb 9, 2011, 9:20am Top

Thanks, Stasia. I may make it, then. :)

Feb 9, 2011, 8:23pm Top

#170: Yeah, me too! lol

Feb 10, 2011, 12:00am Top

*pulls out pom-poms to cheer you on then realizes those are distinctly non-Austen so instead waves handkerchief encouragingly*

Feb 10, 2011, 6:26am Top

#172: Thanks, Micky.

Feb 10, 2011, 3:46pm Top

Just finished S&S five minutes ago. Not really sure how I will rate it yet. Not my favourite Austen, the two P-books(Persuasion and P&P) are still in the lead, but it did grow on me after a while. I did find it a bit slow, but only until Lucy arrived and stirred things up a little.

In my opinion I think we need to forgive Marianne her selfish conduct in the beginning, I see her only as teenager, and though I was cheering Brandon on, I have to admit, the age thing sort of put me off a little. At least such a young age. If someone told me at 16 I would within three years marry someone of 38 (?), I would think them crazy. Yes, I know such an age difference was more common back then, I am just trying to see the Colonels appeal to a young girl, and can certainly understand Marianne falling head over heals for Willoughby.

I guess I need to sort my other thoughts before I comment anything else :)

#156 & 162: I found this description on imdb.com: "A Latina spin on Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," where two spoiled sisters who have been left penniless after their father's sudden death are forced to move in with their estranged aunt in East Los Angeles".

I think I will stick with the Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet version. Planning to see it soon:)

Feb 10, 2011, 4:18pm Top

I thought that it was extremely mature of Marianne to see her sister's side of things at the end. She grew up a lot in the book.

Feb 10, 2011, 5:38pm Top

#174 In trying to see the appeal Colonel Brandon might have to a teenage girl some of it is probably the similarity in their characters. But I might also point out that at 16 or so, I had a massive crush on Johnny Depp (like most straight women with a pulse, I would think) who was in the Colonel Brandon age range at the time. I think the best description we get of the Colonel is probably along the line of handsome, but sex appeal could definitely have been a factor in overlooking the age difference. Purely speculative of course.

Feb 10, 2011, 10:43pm Top

I just started a book by Trollope from 1875 with a similar situation of a young girl being proposed to by an older man. Mom is interested in marrying the daughter off well. Maybe this happened a lot back in the day.

Feb 11, 2011, 12:11am Top

I've been lurking here for a while but thought I'd pop up to say that while I found it initially hard to get my head around the Brandon/Marianne pairing, I could see that back then it was very normal to have such large age gaps so I accepted it for that reason. I haven't read the book recently but I think I remember that Brandon perhaps sees a little similarity in Marianne to his previous love who died and this explains better his initial attraction to her - or have I remembered that wrongly?

Feb 11, 2011, 1:42am Top

Yes, you are remembering correctly.

Feb 12, 2011, 3:07pm Top

I'm still reading the novel, having started my reread a bit late, but wanted to pop in and say that I read the sections that initially describe Mrs. Jennings and the whole Barton Park cohort aloud and I highly recommend that method. Some of Austen's passages are just so delicious when spoken; I actually laughed out loud at points, interrupting myself. Maybe this has already been discussed, but has anyone ever encountered a truly good audiobook version of S&S? Because I think, done right (ie: not boring monotone, but lively, bright voices), it would be wonderful.

However you feel about Austen's pairings, you have to admit that she captures characters with both eloquence and cleverness.

Feb 13, 2011, 12:58am Top

Still reading! The Steele girls have made an appearance.

I have to say, Lady Middleton seems out of place in her family; she's acknowledged as 'well-bred', where her mother and sister, though good-hearted, cheerful people, are not. And, somehow, the Steeles are her cousins.

I'm not sure if it's my copy, but Lucy keeps saying 'you was'. I know she's not supposed to be well educated, but that seems astoundingly bad grammar for that time; especially considering that Edward was under her father's care for his education. I mean something should have rubbed off.

Any comments? I must not be seeing something; Austen is much more careful about constructing her characters than that, I know.

Feb 13, 2011, 1:07am Top

IIRC, "you was" wouldn't have necessarily been bad grammar at one point, but I don't remember if 1799/1802/whenever Austen wrote it is within the range.

Feb 13, 2011, 4:33am Top

It would have been 'thou wert' in Shakespeare's time.

But I'm finding more instances for Lucy, so it must be deliberate, and part of her character, and an indication of her illiteracy (which Elinor has assessed).

Feb 13, 2011, 10:46am Top

Also, Lucy's particular personality means that she probably wasn't paying much attention to her lessons. To Edward, yes, but not to the actual lessons. While 'you was' might have been more of an affectation than a grammatical sin in Austen's day, I do agree that the repetition of the phrase is meant to showcase certain aspects of Lucy's character.

Feb 13, 2011, 1:49pm Top

When I read "you was" I just presumed that it was quite deliberate because only she used it. I thought it showed a lack of literacy but the affectation idea has some merit, especially since I don't recall any other grammar gaffs on Lucy's part.

Re: ebooks: at the very bottom right of the screen on the nook, I see, for example 319/645 pages, indicating just where I am. There's also a sort of bar graph line, but that's not really clear; more of an estimate. I don't know about other toys, though. A slightly disconcerting things is that if one enlarges the typeface, the page number stays the same for two or three pages. At first I thought it was a bit defective in page counting; then I had a perfect "D'Oh!" moment.

Looking forward to P and P in March.

Edited: Feb 14, 2011, 1:23am Top

Lucy also keeps saying 'me' instead of 'I", as in 'Anne and me are going to town'.

I must say, I'm surprised that things were so formal in those days that Elinor can't ask her own sister whether she's actually engaged or not, and has to depend on her mother's asking. You wouldn't even stop to think nowadays. It would have saved a lot of heartache if she could have asked; and lost half the plot :)

Feb 15, 2011, 11:05am Top

I finished last night - phew! It was harder going than I remembered and I think that I still like the P books much better.

One thing I did really enjoy was how much Marianne grows through the book. The teenager we meet at the start would certainly never be suitable for Brandon, but the young woman we leave seems like a good match.

I noticed early on that Austen hints at the depths of Brandon's feelings, not just for Marianne, and how much the two have in common but he is more restrained where Marianne is able to show the entire force of her passions and hides nothing. For me, the pairing does not seem unnatural due to that: the surface they each show is different, but their personalities deep down would compliment each other well.

Feb 15, 2011, 1:15pm Top

>186 humouress:: Good catches. I missed the "Me" instead of "I"; in real life that drives me crazy.

I wondered about Elinor not simply asking: do you think she may have feared some storm of passionate declarations from M.? Or do you think that perhaps she wanted to spare her sister's extreme sensitivity on the issue but just waiting for M. to say something about it?

The age difference between Brandon and M. was pretty huge to our modern eyes, but the reader sees it a lot in later Victorian fiction. Often, but not always, it causes a problem of one sort or another. Maybe it didn't cause quite such a huge cultural gap as it would nowadays because things (cultural mores, technology, etc.) change so much more rapidly now?

Feb 15, 2011, 6:29pm Top

Austen did point out that Lucy wasn't very refined so I assumed her speech was a reflection of that, much in the same way as it would be nowadays.

As for Elinor not asking Marianne about whether or not she's engaged, it may have to do with the social conventions of the time, or with the respect she has for her sister's privacy. But failure of communication is a device that's been in use for many centuries and continues to be popular to this day, probably as a reflection of what we experience in real life, no matter how well-intentioned, diplomatic or plainspoken we might be.

Feb 16, 2011, 1:01pm Top

This has been a very interesting conversation. I was directed here from another conversation I participated on here at LT regarding Sense and Sensibility. A few months ago my 14 year old daughter watched the Emma Thompson version of the movie with me and she absolutely loathed Marianne. Just could not tolerate her histrionics. And it made me think that actually, I didn't like Marianne either. I was just distracted by all the wealth of nasty characters in the story (Fanny really takes the top prize, for me). I still think we're supposed to like Marianne, but I don't. Yes, she's just an emotional teenager, but that's not enough to make me like her. If you're interested in the original conversation, you can find it over at the I Love Jane Austen group: http://www.librarything.com/topic/103620

S&S is one of the middle Austen books for me. I adored Pride and Prejudice and loved Mansfield Park. I put S&S next in a tie with Persuasion, followed by Northanger Abbey, which was okay (even after reading the really boring and painful Castle of Otranto), and firmly in last place, Emma.

Feb 16, 2011, 2:10pm Top

Thanks for the link!

Feb 16, 2011, 3:40pm Top

Oh great, are we reading P&P from March? Where should I find that thread once the time comes? I stumbled on this one by accident.

For those who are done with S&S and want to have some more fun re-experiencing the story, I would recommend the blog Bitch in a Bonnet, which reviewed S&S in a very fun way - at least I appreciated quite a lot of his comments. I now saw that he also has done P&P and is working on Mansfield Park, so I should catch up there. The review of S&S is divided in several blogs that he wrote in 2009 - scroll down the page, there's the time index on the right. http://bitchinabonnet.blogspot.com/

Curious to hear your opinions!

Feb 16, 2011, 4:08pm Top

Holy crap, that blog is hysterical. It should be published.

Feb 16, 2011, 4:34pm Top

That blogger is amazing. I skipped back to S and S as I didn't want to spoil the others before I (re)read them; laughed aloud! Thanks so much for a great link.

Feb 16, 2011, 4:46pm Top

Yep, definitely going to enjoy working my way through that blog "Elinor is a dish of tepid tea next to Lizzie Bennet; but she’s a feral, howling she-wolf next to Fanny Price" ;o)

Thank you for the link.

#193 I wonder if he is planning on publishing it in the long term, given that he is an author?

Feb 16, 2011, 5:11pm Top

Much thanks for the blog link. I see much entertainment and amusement in my future.

Feb 16, 2011, 5:30pm Top

I wonder if he is planning on publishing it in the long term, given that he is an author?

I read the Bitch in a Bonnet pages on Pride and Prejudice in great detail of few months ago, and somewhere in there he says he is indeed planning to publish it. I can't wait--I think he's hilarious, but also so dead-on with his comments and observations.

Feb 16, 2011, 7:51pm Top

#192 I want to thank you for the link too. I just started reading the first entry on S&S and LOVED this paragraph:

The principal agent of the Dashwoods' ruin is the wife of their stepbrother, Mrs. John Dashwood, the first of many monsters in Austen's fiction. What makes her monstrous—as opposed to merely wicked, or venal—is her thorough and transcendent shamelessness. She is, as Quentin Crisp once described Joan Crawford, radioactive with belief in herself. She's proud, insensitive, and has a sense of entitlement that threatens to devour the entire time-space continuum. For that reason, she's a startlingly timely figure, as we're just now reaping the rewards of years of “self-esteem” programs in junior and middle schools, which have produced a generation of Gap-clad Mrs. John Dashwoods who carry cell phones and drive SUVs and who will feel thoroughly justified in running you down with the latter because dammit WHO SAID YOU COULD GET IN THEIR WAY.

Feb 17, 2011, 3:54am Top

Glad you like the blog! I discovered it in 2009 and followed the posting of the review by S&S - and loved it. Then he had a pause after finishing it and I forgot about it all through 2010, so now I've got the reviews of P&P and Mansfield Park to look forward to! And if he publishes it, I'll definitely buy the book :-)

Feb 17, 2011, 11:46am Top

I also loved the blog but couldn't find S&S on there. I read the Mansfield Park entries (delicious!) and saw the previous P&P entries. Is S&S in one of the archives?

Feb 17, 2011, 11:50am Top

Disregard my previous post. A little more digging and I found it. Thanks so much for the link.

Feb 17, 2011, 12:00pm Top

Re: for anyone else having problems finding S&S at Bitch in a Bonnet, it starts in August 2009. It's not an easy website to find exactly what you're looking for.

Feb 17, 2011, 1:26pm Top

Yes, the blog is a little hard to move around in, but it is so funny! I loved his take on S&S. Looking forward to P&P as I read it next month (I've seen the movie but not read the book yet).

Feb 17, 2011, 2:39pm Top

He's really funny, and has a great perspective on Austen. I do think his insistences that Austen was a lean, mean, writing machine go a little overboard at times. Yes, I believe he's right when he says that her works are satiric comedies of manners, but Austen also had a deft and sensitive pen for describing emotions and states of mind. I don't like hearing her hailed as the ancestress of "chick lit" either, but sometimes people feel it's necessary to prove that her works aren't romance before they can be respected as great literature.

Feb 17, 2011, 2:39pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Feb 18, 2011, 3:35am Top

I finished up Sense and Sensibility a few moments ago. Although not the best Austen, I still enjoyed the book. I get a kick at the glimpses of humor underlying parts of the book: "but the readiness of the house, to which Colonel Brandon, with and eager desire for the accommodation of Elinor, was making considerable improvements; and after waiting some time for their completion, after experiencing, as usual, a thousand disappointments and delays from the unaccountable dilatoriness of the workmen. . ." How like today that sounds!

Feb 18, 2011, 11:41am Top

I thoroughly enjoyed it, too. I am so glad that you gave me the incentive to pick it back up again after all these years.

And, guess what? I know where all my other copies of Jane Austen books are! Shocking, I know. :)

Feb 18, 2011, 11:19pm Top

#207: I made it easy to find mine, BJ - I put them all on my Nook! lol

Feb 18, 2011, 11:50pm Top

I have a copy of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice somewhere nearby, but it is not sticking its head out. I'm going to have to buy the Norton Critical Edition.


Feb 19, 2011, 2:48pm Top

I seriously have been drooling over the annotated edition, but it's not in the budget at the moment. :(

But, on a happier note, I finished S&S. For those not following my reading thread, I offer the following review (feel free to skip it if you didn't care much for the novel, because I am an unabashed Austen fan -- though the first line is really as gushy as it gets):

One doesn't really review Jane Austen, so much as bask in the elegance and wit of her prose and wonder at such auspicious beginnings. Sense and Sensibility was Austen's first published novel -- though she had written significant juvenalia and an unpublished epistolary novel, Lady Susan, before writing this one -- and as many other LTers have noticed, her craft still bears a little youth when this freshman effort is compared to her greater masterpieces. Even so, there is nothing bad, or even mediocre, about the book.

Anyone who has ever had a sister can appreciate and connect with Austen's two heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. The two, early in the novel, are opposites in perspective, expression and, of course, sense. Marianne is the angsty teenager, Elinor the elder, calmer, more pragmatic young adult. For sisters, their relationship is relatively typical: the younger drama queen thinks she knows it all; the elder goody two-shoes frets in overly-maternal fashion and tries to gently enlighten her sister about how the world really works. Of course, in the context of the reserved Regency period, their interactions are much more sedate than the melodrama to which 21st century television has accustomed the current reader, but genuine emotion -- love, heartbreak, frustration, respect, injury -- pervades their connection.

The core of the novel is the transformation of these two young women. Over the span of the plot, they become each a little bit more like the other (with significant transformative weight given to the common sense and reserve of Elinor, who is the obvious role model throughout -- she becomes a little bit more open, like Marianne, while Marianne becomes a great deal more like her in comparison) and each a little wiser in the world. Of course, the mechanism of their respective transformations involves romantic love, foolishness and family interference, as much of life does.

The gentlemen who provide agency of transformation range from the tragically selfish Willoughby to the solidly dependable Edward. For my money, however, the ideal male figure in the novel is Colonel Brandon, who offers up a mysterious and sad history that could have graced a Gothic character, combined with gentlemanly manners, unflagging devotion, and a quiet, eternal romanticism. Each of these characters is fleshed with particular realism but highlighted with a certain glow of the ideal that makes them appealing when the novel needs them to be so.

The true masterpieces of this particular Austen novel, however, are the characters who are utterly untouched by any ideal. However fond we might be of our heroines and their love interests, it is the rest of the cast -- each character pocked and pitted with personality quirks ranging from the quixotic to the flat-out bitchy -- that makes the book a genuine pleasure. From the early chapters, in which Fanny Dashwood's snipes about money and property prompt the reader's ire and humor, through the hilarity of Mrs. Jennings' ridiculousness, to the deliciously snide self-righteousness of Miss Lucy Steele, the novel is thoroughly populated with satire and social indictment. Austen's eye for the true ridiculousness of humanity makes the genius here.

Overall, while some may not find this to be a quick and bright as Austen's pinnacle, the novel does present a rich reading experience, authenticity of emotion, and brilliant satirical observations. Granted, I am biased, as a Jane Austen fan of long-standing and having read the novel several times, but for me the bottom line is this: Sense and Sensibility is exactly what a classic should be.

Feb 19, 2011, 2:55pm Top

Oh, and can I just add that I think Colonel Brandon might actually be my favorite of the Austen men? For a while now it has been Wentworth, but I think I would actually marry Brandon (I think I might have even wanted to marry him when I was 18, had I read the book then). 35, house of his own, dependable income, romantically inclined, enjoys books and music, politely puts up with the wackiest people, strong sense of honor and devotion -- yeah, if there are any more of those around, I would like one for myself, please.

Feb 19, 2011, 3:27pm Top

Wow, that was a very impressive review. I have to admit, S&S is not my favourite Austen book and this factor and the massive list of other books I'm trying desperately to read at the moment made me skip this particular re-read.

But, your review has me thinking that I will see a lot more depth in the characters second time around and I think I will re-read it this year.

Feb 19, 2011, 3:33pm Top

And good point about Brandon, I've never considered which of the male characters I prefer but his good points certainly do unite to make a perfect ideal male.

Feb 19, 2011, 7:01pm Top

#210 Fabulous review of S&S. I also am an unabashed lover of Jane Austen but I'm not sure I could be so eloquent on the subject. I enjoy Brandon but I think my favourite Austen hero is still Wentworth. The letter he writes to Anne just makes me melt every time. :)

Feb 19, 2011, 10:24pm Top

Lovely review, Sarah!!

Feb 19, 2011, 11:49pm Top

Thanks for the compliments, all. Glad you liked it. :)

>212 KiwiNyx:: It really is a novel that (like Edward Ferrars, actually) improves upon closer acquaintance. There is another good review on the book's homepage here on LT from someone who read it as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult and has had a different experience every time. I hope that you do reread it -- I would be intrigued to hear your thoughts.

>214 MickyFine:: Ah, Wentworth. I do like him. And you are so right about that letter. We shall have to see, when we come to Persuasion later this year, whether my new-found dedication to Brandon can withstand such gentlemanly appeal. :)

Feb 20, 2011, 1:25am Top

Love the review and the comparison of Wentworth and Brandon - two of my favorite Austen men. I am not a crier in books or movies, but if you have seen the Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility, the scene where Brandon brings Marianne her mother and she says thank you to him? I cry every time.

Feb 20, 2011, 5:00pm Top

I do love the movie. That is a wonderful, emotional scene.

I also love the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root film adaptation of Persuasion. That one has a moment, when the two of them look at each other and take hands, that makes my heart leap.

Sometimes films, even though they take liberties, can capture the spirit of a novel really beautifully.

Feb 20, 2011, 9:44pm Top

Yes, love that one too. Awhile ago, Masterpiece Theater did a whole series of Jane Austen adaptations that were pretty good too.

Feb 20, 2011, 11:26pm Top

Those Masterpiece Theatre adaptations were a mixed bag for me. The S&S film was possibly the best I've ever seen but I found the others lacking. The Persuasion film in particular had zero chemistry, which I thought was a shame. Of course, that doesn't stop me from owning them all on DVD. :)

Feb 21, 2011, 2:53pm Top

I own the other film adaption with Sally Hawkins but I've been trying to get my hands on the Amanda Root one for a while, the pairing is lovely.

Feb 22, 2011, 3:04pm Top

#220 - I know what you mean. Sometimes you just have to have it anyway.

Edited: Feb 27, 2011, 1:55pm Top

>198 Smiler69: : Oh dear; that sounds like me!

Just finished Sense and Sensibility, and - as ever - found Austen laugh-out-loud funny, although it took me a while to get into it, since I was reading it as my first e-book.

I wished steadfast Elinor could have had more of a reward, but that was Jane Austen's point; Lucy managed to get the most benefit. I did think Elinor and Brandon were a better match until almost the end, when we finally got to know Edward better. I kept imagining Kate Winslet having hysterics, which made it harder to believe Marianne's transformation, until I remembered she's only a teenager.

Wonderfully enjoyable, as always

eta : the Ferrars seem almost as bad as my husband's family. I think Lucy got what she deserved, there!

Mar 9, 2011, 11:46am Top

For those participating in the Austenathon, I've created the thread for Pride and Prejudice which we're officially starting on March 15th: http://www.librarything.com/topic/111738

Mar 20, 2011, 7:47pm Top

156 I saw "From Prada to Nada" yesterday. It had its moments, but I didn't like what they did to Marianne. She may have been emotionally overwrought but she wasn't stupid.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2011

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