|This month’s review is another classic, by an author we like, but one we haven’t read in a long, long time, an author who is considered the grandmother of the modern romance novel. Read on, dear patron, and enjoy.|
In Jane Austen’s classic first novel, Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwood sisters, the quiet, stoic Elinor and the passionate, Romantic Marianne and their younger, adventurous Margaret live a very idyllic, if sheltered life, but one that is not without excitement. When their father dies, leaving them all but destitute in favor of their brother John, and his self-centered biddy of a wife, Fanny, they must (eventually) leave their beloved home of Norland. While Marianne and Margaret feel cheated, and furious about the loss, as they hoped never to leave Norland, Elinor is resigned to it, but quietly laments the move, most especially after she has come to know and love Fanny’s brother Edward. But Barton, the little burg in which they and their mother settle, has its promises. The little family settles in, helped along by the neighborly parson and his family, and it is not long before the newcomers are the talk of Barton. Very soon, Marianne finds herself the object of desire of the very mysterious, very charming Colonel Brandon, but, as she confesses to Elinor, she has no such reciprocal feelings; she is head over heels concerning the young Wilhoughby who is just the other side of cad. Ever present over their situation is when will their conniving sister in law ruin everything, by truly convincing their brother the three women can survive quite well on a yearly stipend of exactly nothing. To make matters worse, Elinor finds out her beloved Edward has been keeping a secret that eradicates her romantic notions once and for all. But the Barton folk could never guess she hides such a painful secret. No, they focus on more intriguing thoughts: Why did Colonel Brandon so suddenly run off for London? Will Elinor marry Colonel Brandon? What of Wilhoughby’s colorful past? And Marianne give up her ill-conceived ardor for Wilhouhby and accept Colonel Brandon? Or will Colonel Brandon’s mysterious past ruin that chance? There’s no time to question as Wilhohby ruins everyone’s notions, by breaking Marianne’s heart, for all men, possibly forever, as she falls into a dangerous state of despair and fever.
Will Marianne survive? Will Elinor lose all faith in humanity at last? Will they and their mother end up in the paupers’ house? Who will marry whom?
You’ll have to read to find out!
This was Jane Austen’s first novel, but it doesn’t show; what it does show is the warmth, the romance, and the wit she would become known for, and the story of the Dashwood sisters recounted herein has become just as beloved as the stories that would follow. No doubt our visitors have probably read this at one time or another for any number of assigned literature classes; if so, we recommend giving it a second read; if you haven’t, then you are in for a treat! But keep in mind, this was written in the style of the times of the mid-19th century, and so is not as rip-roaring a tale as a new reader might expect; still there is intrigue aplenty here. Give Sense and Sensibility a try. We’re sure you will be pleasantly surprised!
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