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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
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Sense and Sensibility (original 1811; edition 1965)

by Jane Austen

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24,70634944 (4.14)4 / 1201
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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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! ( )
  thebookmagpie | 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 |
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 |
Another one of the greatest books ever written, Colonel Brandon is my favorite male Austen lead, the plot is great, the characters are fantastic and, once again, if people disagree they're completely wrong. ( )
  madamefaust | Jan 28, 2016 |
The classic story of two sisters: one quiet and sensible, the other effusive and easily hurt (full of 'sensiblity' as they called it). The book charts their first romances, and the ways they deal with hurt. Rather a lot of detail, in the style of the times, and some moralising - but there's also some humour, and delightful irony exposing some of the worst traits of caricatured minor characters. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
Appreciated this so much more as a more mature reader. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Appreciated this so much more as a more mature reader. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Better than I expected!

I am completely in love with the movie version. It is one of my all-time favorites and was worried that in reading the book, it would ruin the movie for me. This was not the case at all.

While it was not exactly an easy read, it was not tedious as I assumed it would be. Even though the language is not as modern as I am used to, it wasn't so difficult that I found myself confused by what I was reading. I only had to look up a few words that I was unsure of their meaning/usage.

The story itself is a beautiful one of love, family, relationships and propriety. The title makes so much sense now (duh)! This was just lovely and reading it not only made me love the movie all the more, it has given me confidence that I will enjoy other works by Ms. Austen, such as Emma, which may be next on my classics to-do list. ( )
  PriPri77 | Jan 15, 2016 |
I wavered between boredom and intrigue. I have some difficulty reading Enlish literature, but I was determined to finish this classic. I liked the different levels of the story: on a very base level, romance; on a different level, immorality and morality; and on a higher level, awakening to selfishness and subsequent repentence. I did find myself chuckling and rolling my eyes at the societal shenanigans of the characters. People, I believe, are basically the same no matter what century they are born in or what country they reside in. I will try Persuasion when I'm ready for another Jane Austen book. ( )
  Desdelyn | Jan 13, 2016 |
Sense and Sensibility

Enjoyable

5 stars

I listened to this novel on audio. The narrator, Julie Christie, did an awesome job with the characters but due to formal language and fancy words, I had to listen to the first CD twice. In short, the story tells of the Dashwood sisters search for love and their loyalty to each other. It's a wonderful, heartfelt story and well worth recommending. ( )
  Feleciak | Jan 13, 2016 |
Sense and Sensibility is a very good book. It is about 3 sisters: Margaret, Marianne, and quiet, polite Elinor. They and their mother need to leave their home because their father died and back then women couldn't own land. First, Mr.Dashwood married someone and they had Mr. John Dashwood and he married Fannie (Mrs. John Dashwood) and then the mother died. Mr.Dashwood re-married to Mrs.Dashwood and had the 3 daughters. Elinor is the main character and you follow her polite reserved way throughout the challenges of the book. I really liked this book. I would recommend this book to advanced readers. ( )
  FlorentinaH19 | Jan 9, 2016 |
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). ( )
1 vote aharey | Dec 28, 2015 |
Wonderful sisters, another terrific heroine, and the least engaging of all Austen's heroes. This was my last full-length Austen novel to complete, and I finished it convinced that Austen never wrote a bad book. I was prepared not to love this one, having seen the movie, but Elinor won me over, although I still cannot fathom for the life of me what she finds attractive about Edward Ferrars! I listened to the audiobook (Kindle WhisperSync) and the narrator was terrific. ( )
  sturlington | Dec 27, 2015 |
Sense and Sensibility is a lot like a Fast & Furious movie, except there are no supercar races, gun fights, fist fights, robbery, and scantily clad girls. Come to think of it Sense and Sensibility is nothing like a Fast & Furious movie. I just had no idea how to start off the review.

Actually Sense and Sensibility is (seriously now) a lot like [b: Pride and Prejudice|1885|Pride and Prejudice|Jane Austen|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320399351s/1885.jpg|3060926]. What with the sisters, one stoic and worldly, one a little wild, impulsive and naive, not to mention the youngest one who is the Maggie Simpson* of the family and does not have much to do. Then we have the nice but immediately friendzoned gentlemen, the handsome cad and the twittering mom with the dollar GBP sign popping up in her eyes when considering her daughters’ matrimonial prospects.

In all fairness to Ms. Austen, the two books are not that similar, Sense and Sensibility is her debut novel and she later used some of the same elements to write her magnum opus (“Pride” that is). The book is entirely focussed on the two Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne and their felicitous relationships with men. This is not the kind of book you should put through the Bechdel test because the ladies herein very seldom talk about anything else except the men in their lives. Still, you never have to wonder what the ladies in this book do in their spare time because all their time seems to be spare time, [a: Thomas Hardy|15905|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1429946281p2/15905.jpg]’s heroines seem to have much harder and more productive lives. Still, I don’t want to put too much of a negative spin on Sense and Sensibility because it is a pleasure to read in spite of its flaws and low stakes.

Jane Austen is brilliant at writing silly, twittering, meddling women who actually mean well but never stop talking except when they are listening through the door and completely misunderstanding the snatches of conversation they could hear. Mrs. Jennings, a friend of the family, is my favorite character in the book, she can always be relied upon to hilariously bark up the wrong tree. Curiously characterization is both a strength and a weakness of this book. The “good guys”, namely Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, are awfully dull, semi-zombified gentlemen. Whereas Willoughby the cad is lively and always game for a laugh. Sir John Dashwood, who is somewhat of an antagonist, is not so lively but he is hilariously tactless and shallow. Our two heroines are both too nice and are no match for the almost-femme fatale Lucy Steele.

Jane Austen is at her best when she is skewering people in polite society and terribly inhibited gents:
“The nature of her commendation, in the present case, however, happened to be particularly ill-suited to the feelings of two thirds of her auditors, and was so very unexhilarating to Edward, that he very soon got up to go away”

Unexhilarating! LOL! Then there is this bit which is worthy of a high five:

“she did not really like them at all. Because they neither flattered herself nor her children, she could not believe them good-natured; 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.”

I started reading Jane Austen to find out what the fuss is about, why do the studios keep adapting her works for films and TV? Initially I did not get it, her storylines always seem inconsequential to me but I have always liked her beautiful prose so I keep coming back to read more. With Sense and Sensibility it finally clicked for me. The snark! Beneath the Victorian politeness and sense of decorium Ms. Austen was a fabulously snarky lady. Having come to this conclusion I am practically ready to join the rank of the Janeites. I already have a bonnet, with several bees in it.

* and her name is Maggie Dashwood! (sort of)
___________________________
Notes:
It’s kind of a shame that the multiple Oscars winning 1995 film adaptation cast the excellent Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant as the nice but awfully boring gentlemen. Emma Thompson is spot on as the super competent Elinor Dashwood though, and Kate Winslet is always worth the admission price.

GR's Sense and Sensibility Quotes page is full of pithy lines, I think it misrepresents the books as something overly earnest or serious. Sense and Sensibility is, for me, a hoot.

Special thanks to the fabulous Ms. Karen Savage for her gracious and beautiful narration of the free Librivox audiobook edition of Sense and Sensibility. She could narrate a laundry list and I'd be happy to listen to it. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
This was an awesome book and an even better audiobook... The Narration was just fabulous. I loved it. ( )
  CrystalW | Dec 15, 2015 |
This was an awesome book and an even better audiobook... The Narration was just fabulous. I loved it. ( )
  CrystalW | Dec 15, 2015 |
I grew up watching Jane Austen movies with my family and this book was my first introduction to her books. I'm sure you are all familiar with the plot- two impoverished beautiful sisters fall in love with two very different men- Willoughby, a handsome, impetuous womanizer, and Edward, a stiff-shirt, secretly engaged preacher. As a child, I related most to Marianne, with her desire for passion and drama, her need for freedom, and her hopeless love for Willoughby. But when I picked it back up when I was older, and a trifle more mature, I realized that I understood and sympathized with Elinor, the worker, the 'mother' for her OWN mother and siblings, the realistic and observant, and the miserable-but only in secret. The only point on which I could not relent was her unwavering affection for Edward, who I thought and still think made a drippy, cheating, sort of ineffectual suitor. Not to mention Lucy Steele, a 'friendly' back-stabbing mean girl, and John and Fanny Dashwood, the worst case of Scrooge relations in history. Oh, and good, good, GOOD, old Colonel Brandon- such a nice man and rich, but too old for Marianne, Jane Austen! Even with it's flaws, it is still my favorite of her books, and a recommendation. ( )
1 vote virtuosoMS | Dec 3, 2015 |
This book was on my secondary-reading list when studying Ms Austen's "Emma" as part of a university module during my English degree.

Although I respect the author's talents, her choice of story here didn't appeal to me whatsoever. Perhaps this is because the novel is aimed at a female audience. For me it was slow and depressing with little of interest.

Glad it was "Emma" and not this title that was the primary text we had to study! ( )
  PhilSyphe | Oct 15, 2015 |
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 | Oct 4, 2015 |
It's by Jane Austen...doesn't that say it all? I really loved her miniature portraits of some of the minor characters in this one.

My copy is part of a set. Small blue cloth covered books with bible-thin pages ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
It's by Jane Austen...doesn't that say it all? I really loved her miniature portraits of some of the minor characters in this one.

My copy is part of a set. Small blue cloth covered books with bible-thin pages ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
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