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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility (original 1811; edition 1965)

by Jane Austen

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25,01936244 (4.14)4 / 1228
Summary: When Mr. Dashwood dies, his daughters find themselves left with only the most meager inheritance, the rest having been entailed to their elder half-brother, who is not of a particularly generous nature. The sisters and their mother move to a small cottage in the country, where both of them find themselves in love - Elinor, the elder, with the shy Edward Ferrars, and Marianne, the younger, with the dashing Mr. Willoughby. While Elinor is as reserved with her feelings as Marianne is extravagent, both seem destined for disappointment, since the situations of both gentlemen are more complicated than the Dashwoods had originally believed.

Review: Sense and Sensibility was the first of Austen's novels that I ever read, and at the time, I didn't understand why so many people seemed to love her so much. Granted, I was supremely ill-prepared for it at the time; I don't think I'd seen any of the movies, or even much from the same period, and I certainly wasn't familiar with the language or the conventions of the period. Now that I've read (and seen) (and loved) others of Austen's works, I decided to return to Sense and Sensibility and give it another shot. And, while I absolutely understood it better than I did the first time around, and enjoyed it well enough, it's still not my favorite of her books, and definitely not the one I should have started with.

A large part of the problem was that when it came to the romance angle, there wasn't really a couple that I was rooting for. I mean, I wanted the Dashwoods to be happy, so once they've figured out what will make them happy, I'm all for that... but there's a very clear note of Marianne settling for Colonel Brandon (who is almost twenty years her senior, besides), and while Elinor's feelings for Edward are pure enough, he's just not a very personable or inspiring leading man. At any rate, I never got as involved in either of their romances as I was in, say, Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy, or Anne & Captain Wentworth.

I also found the language more challenging than the other Austen novels I've read. Perhaps it's because I was reading this during a really stressed-out and distractable period (which: excellent decision, self), but in parts it felt like it was even more convoluted than I would ordinarily expect from literature of the period. I also found the preponderance of secondary and tertiary characters difficult to keep straight in parts, despite recently having watched the movie version. Overall, while it definitely did have its moments, I felt like I had to struggle with this one more than I wanted to, for less romance payoff than I was hoping for. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: My reaction is probably deeply colored by the circumstances in which I read it, and there's still plenty to be enjoyed here, but I still would recommend that an Austen newbie start somewhere else. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Feb 6, 2012 |
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Sense and Sensibility tells the story of the Dashwood family and journey through various trials and tribulations. The story centers on two parallel plots- Marianne Dashwood’s passionate love for Willoughby and Elinor Dashwood’s quiet love for Edward Ferrars.

Sense and Sensibility, the first novel of Jane Austen’s to be published, was written in 1811 and is an excellent example of what is known as a novel of manners. It deals with the behavior and manners of the gentry of Regency England, which had strict codes of conduct and dealt harshly with anyone who broke those codes. Sense and Sensibility shows this through the scandalous behavior of Marianne and Willoughby. Marianne flouts the code in order to live by her passions, while her sister, Elinor, follows the code strictly, never allowing anyone to know the depths of her feelings.

I truly love this novel. The characters are fresh and original, the plot is never contrived, and the resolution to the stories is fulfilling. I especially love the character of Colonel Brandon (although that may be due to Alan Rickman’s portrayal). ( )
  aharey | Apr 30, 2016 |
I'm Elinor. I'm a busybody elitist. In my spare time, I like to play the victim while claiming superiority in all aspects of my personality to others. In fact, near the end of the book, I critique my younger sister - without a trace of self-awareness - for the very qualities that I possess in much more abundance than she has. Anyway, since I can't curtail the youthful fun that she is having with her boyfriend, I will constantly probe my mother to go ask them what's the deal with their relationship even though she is fine with their carrying ons. When I'm eventually proven right about that man's terrible attributes, I will gloat, albeit silently since my sister is highly distressed for strange reasons. My thoughts will involve the man I love who also turned out to be a cad. Even better, I will forever comfort myself with the fact that even though we are now both dumped by men who turned out to be secretly engaged to others, I can still respect my object of desire whereas my poor sister surely cannot even feel a thing for her lover anymore. (an impossible feat since I'm the only one with true deep-waters feelings, whereas hers is just dumb and flightly and silly youthful love, she should marry the old man that she doesn't want to because then she'll learn a lesson. About what, I'm not sure. Maybe humility but I don't know what that is.) Everybody must be talking badly about them now, but luckily, I'm the least gossipy of them all - see before how I tried to get my mother to worm information out of my sister so I didn't have to gossip. I'm very open-minded which is why I'm always judging everyone and trying to stop people having fun. It was wonderful when I finally got to tell Marianne about my Edward woes so that I can further victimise myself and get double sympathy for it because of my completely admirable composure throughout.

Seriously, though, I thought Elinor was going to get some sort of lesson on pride at the end, but no, she gets a happy ending while also acting like a bloody snot throughout the entire book. There were other much more admirable women in the book. For one, Charlotte Palmer who makes her own realities, interpreting her husband's disdain as drollness, everyone as her immediate best friends, extremely exuberant and effusive (seemingly genuinely) on everything. Sure, she's painted as as a very silly woman, but I can't help admire her way of viewing the world (like Kenneth from 30 Rock in that episode which leads into a delightful little Muppet musical!). At the very least, she's very happy with her life. Unlike Elinor the party pooper who stands on the side thinking herself superior to the dumb drones having a good time. Even Lucy is a wonderful character, showing a calculating mind behind her supposed meekness. Also, Marianne. She's happy with her little fling. Sure, she's miserable after the reveal. But at least she's FEELING something. Which is more than anyone can say for Elinor the robot, who definitely takes the keep-your-emotions-in-check, stiff-upper-lip thing way too far. But still never learns, and doesn't have to because in the end she gets her man.

I was incredibly frustrated by the character of Elinor, which unfortunately overshadowed the wonderful wit of the Austen social commentary. A better ending would have been if Edward and Lucy really got married and are shown to be wonderfully in love and Edward informing Elinor that she's like the sister he never had (and never wished he had) and because of this deep sibling bond between them, he feels that it is his duty to tell her all her flaws and how uncomfortable her clear sexual attraction to him makes him feel, while also mentioning how much better Lucy is as a human being, not always presuming herself to be superior to others because of random advantages in life and education.. Final criticism of the novel: different people keep visiting the Dashwoods, nobody knows why, seeing as they're so incredibly dull themselves. ( )
  kitzyl | Apr 29, 2016 |
A classic by Jane Austen ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 26, 2016 |
  MrsDoglvrs | Apr 24, 2016 |
This was a difficult book to read. Like many I had seen the 1995 film with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet before I ventured to read the book. The language of the book is not simple, so it can be hard to follow. There are lots of characters, largely unlikable, including Marianne Dashwood, who can at times be very irritating. The real heroine of this tale is her oldest sister, Elinor. You can't help but want Elinor's lot to improve, for her to find love, and a secure place in life. I definitely preferred the film. ( )
  briandrewz | Apr 21, 2016 |
A classic. Wit, humor, depth. ( )
  add_dragon | Mar 26, 2016 |
I liked it, but it wasn't quite to my taste.

(Full review: http://wordslikemagic.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/sense-and-sensibility-by-jane-aus...) ( )
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
It's not in my Top Three Austens but it's probably the best of the rest. I found something about Marianne terribly grating but I will probably reread it with a little more sense of perspective and hopefully not find her so much of a snivelling idiot. I'll have more to say if I do reread, I'm sure! ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
Left penniless after their father's death, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood face an uncertain future. They need to marry well if they are to retain their comfortable existence, but as Marianne's impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo, so does Elinor's sensitivity to social convention lead her to conceal her own romantic ambitions.
With a number of possible suitors - the intelligent and charming Mr. Edward Ferrars, the handsome Mr. John Willoughby and the more thoughtful and compassionate Colonel Brandon - they seem to have their share of options. But are they all they appear and can the sisters find happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love? ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
Sense and Sensibility is so beautifully written, the story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood facing an uncertain future. Marianne's impulsive behaviour, Elinor's sensitivity to social convention, the intelligent and charming Mr. Edward Ferrars, the handsome Mr. John Willoughby and the more thoughtful and compassionate Colonel Brandon.

I always wondered about Mrs. Dashwood and Margaret, and how their stories continued. My favorite adaptation is the 2008 miniseries.

I always feel like Marianne but I wish I was more like Elinor, sensible, patient, good at hiding her feelings, amiable but never snobbish. My feelings seem to me all so obvious like Marianne, who is wild, natural, emotional, romantic and passionate. I dare say that her horrible experiences with her father's death, Willoughby breaking her heart and maturing made her find more balance... but at heart I think Marianne will always be wild. ( )
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
Set in late 18th century England, Sense and Sensibility chronicles the love lives of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Elinor is passionate and outspoken while Marianne is more reserved and thoughtful in nature. Jane Austen, as always, does an impeccable job writing about the manners and customs of the time, poking fun at the artifice and silliness of it all. Although the sisters suffer from different heartaches and heartbreaks, they both end up with well matched suitors. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Mar 10, 2016 |
The Serial Reader App is a free app in the Apple App Store that lets you read the classics in serial form.
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  jeshakespeare | Mar 4, 2016 |
When Mr. Dashwood dies, his estate - Norland Park - passes to John, his only son, and child of his first wife. Mrs. Dashwood, his second wife, and their daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, are left only a small income.

On his deathbed, Mr. Dashwood had asked John to promise to take care of his half-sisters but John's selfish wife, Fanny, soon persuades her weak-willed husband that he has no real obligation in the matter, and he gives the girls nothing. John and Fanny move into Norland as its new owners and the Dashwood women, now treated as guests in what was their home, begin looking for another place to live.

Fanny's brother, Edward Ferrars, a pleasant, unassuming, intelligent but reserved young man, comes to Norland for a visit. He and Elinor are clearly attracted to each other and Mrs. Dashwood hopes they will marry. Fanny makes it clear that their mother, a wealthy widow, wants her son to marry a woman of high rank or great estate, if not both. Although Edward is attentive to Elinor, his reserved behaviour makes it hard to guess his intentions. Elinor does not encourage her relatives to hope for the marriage, although she secretly does.

One of Mrs. Dashwood's cousins, the wealthy Sir John Middleton, offers her a cottage on his estate, Barton Park, in Devonshire, and Mrs. Dashwood decides to accept. She and the girls find it tiny and dark compared to Norland, but try to make the best of it. They are warmly received by Sir John, who insists that they dine with him frequently at the great house of Barton Park and join the social life of his family. Also staying with Sir John is his mother-in-law Mrs. Jennings, a rich widow who is full of kindness and good humour and who immediately assigns herself the project of finding husbands for the Dashwood girls.

While visiting Sir John, the Dashwoods meet his old friend Colonel Brandon. It soon becomes apparent that Brandon is attracted to Marianne, and Mrs. Jennings teases them about it. Marianne is not pleased as she considers Colonel Brandon, at age 35, to be an old bachelor incapable of falling in love or inspiring love in anyone else.

A 19th century illustration showing Willoughby cutting a lock of Marianne's hairMarianne, out for a stroll, gets caught in the rain, slips, and sprains her ankle. The dashing, handsome John Willoughby, who is visiting his wealthy aunt, Mrs Smith, in the area, happens to be out with his gun and dogs nearby and sees the accident. He carries her home and soon wins her admiration with his good looks and outgoing personality, the opposite of the quiet and solemn Brandon. He visits her every day, and Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood begin to suspect that the couple are secretly engaged. After a picnic outing, during which Willoughby and Marianne are alone together for some time, Willoughby tells Mrs. Dashwood that he will have something important to say on his next visit. Mrs. Dashwood assumes he means to propose to Marianne and seek her blessing for the match. But when the day comes, she and Marianne are devastated to hear Willoughby announce that his aunt is sending him to London on business and that he may not return to their area for as long as a year.

Edward Ferrars visits the Dashwoods at Barton Cottage but seems unhappy. Elinor fears that he no longer has feelings for her. However, unlike Marianne, she does not allow anyone to see her wallow in her sadness, feeling it her duty to be outwardly calm for the sake of her mother and sisters, who dote on Edward and have firm faith in his love for Elinor.

Anne and Lucy Steele, cousins of Lady Middleton, come to stay at Barton Park. Sir John tells Lucy that Elinor is attached to Edward, prompting Lucy to inform Elinor that she (Lucy) has been secretly engaged to Edward for 4 years. Although Elinor initially blames Edward for engaging her affections when he was not free to do so, she realizes he became engaged to Lucy while he was young and naïve and perhaps has made a mistake. She thinks (hopes) that Edward does not love Lucy, but he will not hurt or dishonour her by breaking their engagement. Elinor hides her disappointment and works to convince Lucy she feels nothing for Edward. This is particularly hard as she sees Lucy may not be sincerely in love with Edward and may only make him unhappy.

Elinor and Marianne spend the winter at Mrs. Jennings' home in London. Marianne's letters to Willoughby go unanswered, and he treats her coldly when he sees her at a party. He later writes to Marianne, enclosing their former correspondence and love tokens, including a lock of her hair and informing her he is engaged to a Miss Grey, a high-born, wealthy woman with fifty thousand pounds (equivalent to about five million pounds today). Marianne admits to Elinor that she and Willoughby were never engaged, but she loved him and he led her to believe he loved her.

Colonel Brandon tells Elinor that Willoughby had seduced Brandon's ward, fifteen-year-old Eliza Williams, and abandoned her when she became pregnant. Brandon was once in love with Miss Williams' mother, a woman who resembled Marianne and whose life was destroyed by an unhappy arranged marriage to the Colonel's brother.

Because Fanny Dashwood does not like her sisters-in-law, she declines her husband's offer to let them stay with her. Instead, she invites the Miss Steeles. Lucy Steele becomes very arrogant and brags to Elinor that the old dowager Mrs. Ferrars favours her. Indeed Fanny and Mrs. Ferrars were fond of Lucy so Lucy's sister, Anne, decides it would not be improper to tell them of Lucy's engagement to Edward. When Mrs. Ferrars discovers Edward's and Lucy's engagement, she is infuriated, and demands he end the engagement instantly. However, he refuses so she disinherits him, in immediate favour of his brother, Robert. Elinor and Marianne feel sorry for Edward, and think him honourable for remaining engaged to a woman with whom he isn't in love.

Edward plans to take holy orders to earn his living, and Colonel Brandon, knowing how lives can be ruined when love is denied, expresses his commiseration to Edward for the deplorable circumstance and offers Edward a parsonage on Delaford, the Colonel's estate, with two hundred pounds a year. Colonel Brandon did not intend the parsonage to be assistance for Edward to marry Lucy as it would be insufficient to house a wife but intends it to provide Edward some sustenance. Elinor meets Edward's boorish brother Robert and is shocked he has no qualms about claiming his brother's inheritance.

The sisters end their winter stay in London and begin their return trip to Barton via Cleveland, the country estate of Mrs.Jennings' son-in-law, Mr Palmer. There, miserable over Willoughby, Marianne neglects her health and becomes dangerously ill. Hearing of her serious illness, Willoughby arrives suddenly and reveals to Elinor that he truly loved Marianne, but since he was disinherited when his benefactress discovered his seduction of Miss Williams, he decided to marry the wealthy Miss Grey.

Elinor tells Marianne about Willoughby's visit. Marianne admits that although she loved Willoughby, she could not have been happy with the libertine father of an illegitimate child, even if he had stood by her. Marianne also realizes her illness was brought on by her wallowing in her grief, by her excessive sensibility, and had she died, it would have been morally equivalent to suicide. She now resolves to model herself after Elinor's courage and good sense.

The family learns Lucy has married Mr. Ferrars. When Mrs. Dashwood sees how upset Elinor is, she finally realizes how strong Elinor's feelings are for Edward and is sorry she did not pay more attention to her daughter's unhappiness. However, the next day Edward arrives and reveals it was his brother, Robert Ferrars, who married Lucy. He says he was trapped in his engagement to Lucy, "a woman he had long since ceased to love", and she broke the engagement to marry the now-wealthy Robert. Edward asks Elinor to marry him, and she agrees. Edward eventually becomes reconciled with his mother, who gives him ten thousand pounds. He also reconciles with his sister Fanny. Edward and Elinor marry and move into the parsonage at Delaford. Still, Mrs. Ferrars tends to favour Robert and Lucy over Edward and Elinor.

Mr. Willoughby's patroness eventually gives him his inheritance, seeing his marriage to a woman of good character has redeemed him. Willoughby realizes marrying Marianne would have produced the same effect; had he behaved honourably, he could have had love and money.

Over the next two years, Mrs. Dashwood, Marianne, and Margaret spend most of their time at Delaford. Marianne matures and, at the age of nineteen, decides to marry the 37-year-old Colonel. We are told that it is not in her nature to do anything by halves, and the gratitude and respect she has come to feel for him develop into a very deep love. The Colonel's house is near the parsonage where Elinor and Edward live, so the sisters and their husbands can visit each other often.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
I recently reread this and was once again pleasantly surprised at how funny it is. What I hadn't remembered was how sarcastically Austen describes Marianne--she's very hard on her, and it made me actually like the poor little gawthic sweetheart. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I am thankful that I didn't pick this, Sense and Sensibility, as my first Jane Austen book, otherwise I might have never known the love that I have for Pride and Prejudice. While Sense and Sensibility is a splendid story about love and class, it contains the most annoying characters of all time. Honestly, I didn't care for a single one other than Elinor. ( )
  StephLaymon | Feb 23, 2016 |
When Mr Dashwood dies, his estate goes to his eldest son by his first marriage, and the second Dashwood family is left in reduced circumstances. Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters – Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret – leave the estate and move to a cottage on the estate of Sir John Middleton, a cousin of Mrs Dashwood. The eldest two Dashwood sisters are as different as night and day in their approach to life and its joys or obstacles. Elinor is restrained and proper, known for her intelligence and keen sense. Marianne is beautiful, intelligent, charming and musical, and wears her heart upon her sleeve. The result is that while everyone “knows” what Marianne is thinking or feeling, Elinor is frequently seen as cold or unmoved. Which will have the greatest success – the one who relies on Sense? Or the one who enjoys her Sensibilities (emotion or sensitivity)? It’s a joy to discover the outcomes of their tangled relationships.

I love Jane Austen. Her ability to write dialogue is unsurpassed, in my humble opinion. There is plenty of humor in the dinner party scenes, as well as the heartache of unrequited love or the abject misery of love lost. Sarah Badel’s performance of this audio is spot-on perfect. The way she handles the many characters makes it easy for the listener to keep track of the action. I particularly applaud her abilities in the confrontations between Marianne and Willoughby at the London party, and later between Elinor and Willoughby at Cleveland. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 19, 2016 |
I've read this novel a long time ago, I do enjoy Jane's style, but I can't say this is my favorite title... Maybe I wasn't mature enough or even ready to let the book speak to me...I'll definitely give this title another shot. ( )
  Glaucialm | Feb 18, 2016 |
my least favorite Austen book ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
I give the narrator, Juliet Stevenson, five stars. I give Jane Austin four and a half. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | Feb 11, 2016 |
I'm always a fan of Austen's stories. What I thought was interesting were the parallels to Pride & Prejudice; the unconventional female protagonist and her conventional beauty of a sister, along with a seemingly-charming gentleman who woos but is discovered as being a scoundrel who in the past has tempted innocents into scandal. The parallels were actually distracting because by the end of the novel I expected the same outcomes for the similar characters and was disappointed by an abrupt and practical but not romantic resolution. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
Sense and Sensibility is Jane Austen's first published work written in the 19th century, England. The time when women were not able to follow a profession, nor to have an equal education to men and when single women would normally receive pity and sympathy from their society.
The novel is built around the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, whose contrasting styles are the "sense and sensibility" of the title. Elinor is the elder sister, patient, considerate and practical. Marianne, on the other hand, knows no halfway love of anything in life.

As the story opens, their father has just died, leaving the family estate to his son by a first marriage and his second wife and three daughters in near destitution. The widow and three daughters move to a small cottage on the estate of a distant kinsman in Devonshire. Elinor leaves behind the cherished Mr. Edward Ferres, a shy but loyal and seemingly compatible friend, who has however strangely not offered marriage to Elinor.At Barton Cottage, the girls make many new acquaintances, in particular the loud and bustling matriarch Mrs Jennings who is determined to marry the girls off as quickly as can be, and the quiet and gentlemanly Colonel Brandon. As for the romantic and dreamy Marianne, she's fallen hopelessly in love with the dashing John Willoughby after he rescues her from a rainy day and a twisted ankle whilst out walking in the countryside - much to the dismay of the smitten Colonel Brandon. Already concerned at Marianne's overly romantic disillusions, Elinor is concerned at her rather wanton behaviour in the presence of her new beau, but is then has her attention drastically diverted on being introduced to a Miss Lucy Steele who has a secret to share about Edward Ferrars. ( )
  AlexisLovesBooks | Feb 9, 2016 |
Entertaining enough, more accessible than I necessarily expected. Hard to believe that people would actually have been as obsessed with money as Mr. John Dashwood was. But forgive Willoughby? Seriously? That was lost on me. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
It's not in my Top Three Austens but it's probably the best of the rest. I found something about Marianne terribly grating but I will probably reread it with a little more sense of perspective and hopefully not find her so much of a snivelling idiot. I'll have more to say if I do reread, I'm sure! ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
It's not in my Top Three Austens but it's probably the best of the rest. I found something about Marianne terribly grating but I will probably reread it with a little more sense of perspective and hopefully not find her so much of a snivelling idiot. I'll have more to say if I do reread, I'm sure! ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
Good, but not may favorite by Austin ( )
  WonderlandGrrl | Jan 29, 2016 |
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