on January 18, 2011
"Sense and Sensibility" is the first published novel of Jane Austen. Originally published in 1811, the novel went through several versions perhaps starting with "Elinor and Marianne" in 1795, though it is not certain. I suspect that "Sense and Sensibility" is the second best known work of Austen after "Pride and Prejudice", and I would say that it is not as easy to read as "Pride and Prejudice". One of the reasons for this is due to the importance of what was considered proper behavior at the time, and without an understanding of that standard of behavior, the motivation of the characters is hidden from the reader. Nevertheless, it is still worth the effort to read and overall it is worthwhile. At the same time, it is well worth reading an edition like the Penguin Classics version, which helps the reader understand the period and societal standards which play an important role in this novel.
The main characters of "Sense and Sensibility" are the sisters Elinor and Marianne, who are the daughters of Mr. Dashwood and his second wife. There is a third daughter, Margaret and of course his second wife Mrs. Dashwood. When Mr. Dashwood passes away, his estate passes to his son by his first wife, leaving the Dashwood women into lives of reduced means. The two elder sisters experience nearly the same situations. Both find love, then the shock of learning that those they love are pre-engaged.
"Sense and Sensibility" is written in three volumes. The first deals with the transition of the Dashwood women to their new lives where they leave their Norland home move to stay with distant relations (the Middletons) at Barton Park. Elinor cares for Edward Ferras, the brother-in-law of her half-brother, and Marianne meets and is courted by John Willoughby. Willoughby leaves suddenly for London, causing Marianne distress. This volume also introduce Anne and Lucy Steele, two relations of the Middleton's who arrive as guests, but their arrival causes problems for Elinor who learns that Lucy is secretly engaged to her Edward. In Volume II, it is Marianne who learns that Willoughby has become engaged to another, due to his wasting his fortune and need for wealth. In Volume III the situations with the two sisters and those who they thought they loved is resolved, though in different ways.
"Sense and Sensibility", in my opinion, is more difficult for a modern reader to digest, but that does not mean that it doesn't have anything to offer. There are some wonderful moments and when presented in a scholarly format with detailed notes it can still be enjoyed the same way it was when first published. I don't personally rate "Sense and Sensibility" as high as "Pride and Prejudice", but it is still a very good novel and an important piece of literature.
on February 2, 2010
When I heard that Bethany House was offering Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility for review, I flew at the chance. Not only does this edition offer the beloved classic story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, it also give the reader a fun glimpse into the world where Jane Austen lived and wrote. I enjoyed the editorial comments along the way. It made me feel like I was reading a book with a friend, and that friend was sharing insights and funny things as they read it with me. One of my favorite features was the ongoing list of disliked characters. It was fun to see who made it on the top of the list in that specific chapter.
Though I had read Pride and Prejudice before, I had never taken the time to read Sense and Sensibility. I'm so glad that I did, and that it was in this format. I'm going to look into getting a copy of Pride and Prejudice the Insight edition, as well.
I highly recommend this book. It would be a wonderful addition to any library.
(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review.)
on October 20, 2009
My love for anything and everything Victorian has helped me embrace this novel set in the Regency Period, and so, naturally I fell in love with this timeless piece. This story of the very different Dashwood sisters and their clashing tastes in their choices of men to love, was endearing as well as very frustrating at times. Just when I thought the obvious about Colonel Brandon, Edward or Willoughby- the story took a different turn just to add to the intrigue of it all; classic Austen at its best.
The story revolves around love-sickness, love-triangles, a marriage of convenience, age and love, differences of choices and opinions, wealth and social status, influence, family conflict, secret-filled pasts and ultimately'and appropriately so: sense and sensibility. I'm still not sure which of the sisters I concurred with the most; Elinor or Marianne... Austen brilliantly shifts us from one perception to the other while embracing both depending on the situation. Ultimately the girls' reconciliation and love for eachother blends the disparities of state helping them come to terms with their own serenity. Love can then be found and accepted under a new light.
Sense and Sensibility is a light read embedded with deeper meaning that brings comfort, peaks interest and offers a colourful variety of figures (the comical busy-body Miss Jennings is indeed very special!) On the whole, this read meshed excitement, passion, drama as well as 'sagesse' in the lives of two otherwise very ordinary ladies of the times. The book doesn't skip a beat with essential meanings and turn of events within every paragraph- With this one, you won't want to blink:)
One can never get enough of elegantly written suspense-filled love twists and pangs. At least I can't- Loved it!
on December 12, 2013
This is a really good edition of this story. I read this story for the first time using a different edition but this edition has a really helpful set of notes to really help the reader get all they can out of the story (those little things that our modern sensibilities have lost). Only drawback of this version is that the paper was not as white as it could have been leading to a poor contrast.
on June 30, 2013
The first of her published novels, Sense and Sensibility tells the story of Dashwood sister’s Elinor and Marianne who although basically penniless, are determined to move towards what they believe to be the perfect love. Marianne being thoroughly romantic and ardent in her vision is ready to die for love, but Elinor is more thoughtful and self-controlled and puts much more sense into it. They will each have to overcome grief and despair to achieve what they hope will be marital bliss.
In my opinion, this first novel of Austen is by far her most romantic and depicts sisterly love in a beautiful way. Each time I read it, I can help but feeling for either of the sisters as they grow apart or closer in their quest for Edward Ferrars or John Willoughby. The whole novel is well plotted, not matter what some people have said about the unraveling of the love triangle that is Lucy Steele, Elinor and Edward. And even though every deadly romantic individual will hope for a happy ending in between Marianne and Willoughby, I find that her marrying sensible Colonel Brandon, although almost twice her senior, is much more suitable than her ending with Willoughby.
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I've been considering getting one of Jane Austen book for a few years now but I never did so far. Yes I am honestly saying to you that I have never read one of her book before. When I had the opportunity of reviewing a new edition of Sense and Sensibility, I thought it was the perfect opportunity of revising this lack in my bookworm life.
So as many of you probably know, this is the story of two sisters and their love ones. So I won't expand on the story per say for this review since this is apparently a classic in English literature. Being French Canadian, I had not gotten to know Jane Austen in the past. But I am now and I am glad to have read one of her book. But I must be honest to say that at times, I was having trouble to understand the old English style of writing and reading. For example, when talking about the age of someone, they would say of me one and forty instead of forty-one. So I figure that part pretty easily. But other terminology and words were harder to understand.
Well the insight edition will bring various notes throughout the reading of the book to help clarify what the reader comes upon. There are historical and cultural details and definitions from England in the early 1800s. I really like these as it helped me to picture and situate the culture of that time. There are also facts and tidbits from Austen's life that parallel or illuminate the novel. This information was interesting but I suspect that die-hard fans of Austen would really enjoy them. The reader will also have access of references to Sense and Sensibility to today's culture, unscientific ranking of the novel's most frustrating characters, themes of faith drawn from the novel or Austen's life as well as comments and asides on the book's characters and plot.
As I said previously, I am having some issues with the way it is written - old English style- but I also believe that a person shall make the effort of reading something out of her comfort zone once in a while. And this novel is definitively out of my own comfort zone. The story is a classic brought many times on TV and movie. The author is well known around the world. It is my duty as a woman who loves to read to get exposed to this kind of writing to expand my knowledge and my taste. So I pursue the reading every night and I discover a little bit more about the Dashwood sisters and their life in the 1800s in England. I find it interesting.
Another thing that I particularly appreciate in this book is the fact that the reader will find a series of questions that are perfect of a book club.
This review was possible because I received a copy of Sense and Sensibility from Bethany House.
on July 10, 2004
In Sense and Sensible the storyline dwells on the two elder sisters of the Dashwood family, Elinor and Mariane. Elinor is always in control of her emotions and is governed primarily by prudence (sense). Her younger sister, Marianne, is an emotional whirlwind whose sensibilities dictate that those who do not evidence wholly encompassing emotions are without them entirely. As in Pride & Prejudice, the family home of the Dashwoods has been willed to another member of the family not in the immediate nuclear family. In Pride & Prejudice, the home was entailed to Mr. Collins, a distant cousin. Where there was only an overshadowing of the loss of the estate in that book, in Sense & Sensibility, the house is actually lost to the half brother whose wife, a Ferrar, not only talks her husband out of the generous support to his half sisters that he promised (albeit vaguely) his dying father but makes life in general unpleasant for the Dashwood ladies until they find a situation with a cousin, John Middleton. Part of the unpleasantness surrounds an apparent but unprofessed affection of her brother, Edward Ferrars, for the eldest Dashwood, Elinor.
It would seem that the move has quashed the supposed attraction, leaving Elinor attempting to contain her disappointment. Marianne meanwhile strikes up an intense relationship with equally extroverted Willoughby. When Willoughby suddenly disappears, the two girls come together to support each other emotionally through a storm of discoveries, pleasant and unpleasant.
Sense and Sensibility develops into its own independent storyline after many similarities with Pride & Prejudice. Although this novel holds its own and is an enjoyable book, I still feel that Pride & Prejudice is its superior in pace, story line and general feel. Sense came out well before Pride and it almost feels that the same idea is being worked out in both - an idea that got clearer and was better communicated in Pride. Pride had a much more natural (believable) feeling to the events where Sense does require a little suspension of disbelief in some of the contrivances to get to a happy ending (specifically referring to the actions of Robert Ferrar). If you liked Pride and want more Austen, this is your book. If you are choosing between the two, choose Pride ... than come back for this one.
on June 23, 2004
Although SENSE AND SENSIBILITY is not of one Jane Austen's best novels, it is nonetheless a major novel, with the author's then-young talent in full display. Its publication in 1811 marked Austen as a huge literary talent, and its significance reverberates even today as contemporary readers re-discover the works of this author so adept at uncovering the foibles of nineteenth century aristocracy.
The title refers to the two eldest Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, one of whom (Elinor) embraces practicality and restraint while the other (Marianne) gives her whole heart to every endeavor. When the Dashwoods - mother Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and youngest sister Margaret - are sent, almost impoverished, to a small cottage in Devonshire after the death of their father and the machinations of their brother's wife, they accept their new circumstances with as much cheer as they can muster even though their brother and his wife have taken over the family estate and fortune. Their characters, albeit wildly different in their approaches to life, are impeccably honest and intelligent - and their suitors take notice. Elinor falls in love with the shy, awkward Edward, while Marianne's affections are lavished on the dashing hunter Willoughby. As in all Austen's books, love and marriage don't come easily, as affections aren't always returned and social jockeying sometimes takes precedence to true love. In an interestingly twist, the end of this novel brings into question which sister represents which part of the title.
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY only hints at the social skewering Austen would use to such great effect in her later novels, and the humor here is only occasional and slight, as this novel adopts a generally serious tone. Parody is largely limited to the gossipy Mrs. Jenkins, who jumps to wild conclusions about situations she knows nothing about. Though arranged marriage and true love figure prominently in all of Austen's novels, this novel focuses almost exclusivity on the prospects of the two main characters, making it less complex than the novels that followed. Reserved Elinor and exuberant Marianne are expertly drawn, with Edward, Willoughby, and Colonel Brandon (whose lovesick hopes for Marianne are dashed again and again) also engaging creations. Except for the first page or two where the circumstances of the Dashwoods are set up through a series of deaths and relations, possibly causing some confusion, this novel is exceedingly easy to follow for contemporary readers.
This novel is an excellent introduction to Jane Austen's works because of its relative simplicity (though readers should not dismiss it as simple) and the use of typical themes and social situations. Book clubs and students might want to explore the influence of money on nineteenth century British society as well as the meaning of the title as it applies to both the sisters and the other characters. It is also interesting to note both the helplessness and the extraordinary power of women in different circumstances.
Just because this is not Austen's best novel, I could not take away a single star because it is such a delightful book. I highly recommend this novel for all readers.
on June 1, 2004
This is a story of two sisters, marrian and elinor, which, though very similar in some aspects, and share a very similar unfortunate love affair, are total different in their behavior and approach toward matters of the heart. Tough both emotional in both seeking love and addressing it, one lets her emotions take over just about everything else, and the other have better balance between love and logic.
I'm not much of a period novel fan, and didn't like the emma tompson movie so much - so i wasn't too keen on reading this book at first, but as i got into the pace of the story, i enjoyed reading it. what i mostly liked about this book is the fact that though it was written a few centuries ago, the emotions describe in it, and the moral this story tells are still very true till today. the way we all need to balance our inner world with consideration and respect for the outer world.
I've been helping two friends through a pretty messy break up while i was reading this book, and i kept quoting parts of it for them, trying to explain how the choice between "being a marrianne" and "being an elinor" is their's and how dealing with grief and lose might be effected by their own approach to love and life in general.
I recommend this book to anyone who ever suffered from a broken heart and had to deal with a break up. It's inspiring and interesting
on May 26, 2004
"Sense and Sensibility," Jane Austen's first published novel (1811), tells the intertwined stories of two contrasting sisters, the lively, passionate, impulsive Marianne and the reserved, self-disciplined, dutiful Elinor. Both experience love, heartache, and eventual happiness in marriage, and both have their beliefs and value systems tested. A host of memorable, comic minor characters combine with the principal heroines and heroes to develop a tale that is both lively and thought provoking, humorous and psychologically astute. Anyone who has ever struggled with conflicts between spontaneity and caution, heart and head, can identify with the central characters of this novel.
This edition of "Sense and Sensibility" includes a number of helpful supplementary materials that enhance the reader's understanding and appreciation of the novel. Excerpts from contemporary texts clarify the historical context of the terms "sense" and "sensibility." Among the works included are selections from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther," a classic example of the novel of sensibility, and Maria Edgeworth's "Letters of Julia and Caroline," an earlier novel of contrasting female characters, in this case two friends, one of whom is sensible and the other romantic and impractical. The edition also includes the whole of Jane Austen's "Love and Freindship" (sic), a hilarious parody of sentimental fiction written when Austen was fourteen. Besides background materials, the volume includes four essays from recent critics that represent a range of different interpretations of the novel.
Finally, the introduction provides useful biographical and historical information and outlines a variety of critical approaches to the novel: some critics believe Elinor is clearly the favored sister and the sense she embodies the preferred value system; some critics by contrast believe the novel either consciously or unconsciously betrays sympathy for Marianne and the sensibility she represents; and other critics believe the novel advocates a middle ground between sense and sensibility, according to which both sisters need to abandon aspects of their initial beliefs and adopt attitudes and behaviors associated with the other sibling. "Sense and Sensibility" has sometimes been criticized for being too didactic and formulaic, but those who read the novel along with the various background, critical, and introductory essays in this volume should discover a work that is richly complex, ambiguous, and many-sided in its exploration of the competing values of emotion and reason, spontaneity and restraint, and personal fulfillment versus duty to others.