on 29 November 2011
This is a review of this particular edition of Sense and Sensibility for Kindle, since reviews of the book are easy enough to find.
I was looking for an unabridged version of Sense and Sensibility, that had even margins on each side of the text and that was nicely formatted. This edition delivered everything I wanted, including nice simple formatting that is easy to follow (it almost has a vintage feel to it) and chapters that start on a new page, with the added bonus of wonderful illustrations throughout the book (one of two per chapter -- enough to enjoy, but not so many it's distracting). I loved reading this edition and would highly recommend it.
My only complaint is that I can't buy Persuiasion in the same edition.
One of the Dashwood daughters is smart, down-to-earth and sensible. The other is wildly romantic and sensitive.
And in a Jane Austen novel, you can guess that there are going to be romantic problems aplenty for both of them -- along with the usual entailment issues, love triangles, sexy bad boys and societal scandals. "Sense and Sensibility" is a quietly clever, romantic little novel that builds up to a dramatic peak on Marianne's romantic troubles, while also quietly exploring Elinor's struggles.
When Mr. Dashwood dies, his entire estate is entailed to his weak son John and snotty daughter-in-law Fanny. His widow and her three daughters are left with little money and no home.
Over the next few weeks, the eldest daughter Elinor begins to fall for Fanny's studious, quiet brother Edward... but being the down-to-earth one, she knows she hasn't got a chance. Her impoverished family soon relocates to Devonshire, where a tiny cottage is being rented to them by one of Mrs. Dashwood's relatives -- and Marianne soon attracts the attention of two men. One is the quiet, much older Colonel Brandon, and the other is the dashing and romantic Willoughby.
But things begin to spiral out of control when Willoughby seems about to propose to Marianne... only to abruptly break off his relationship with her. And during a trip to London, both Elinor and Marianne discover devastating facts about the men they are in love with -- both of them are engaged to other women. And after disaster strikes the Dashwood family, both the sisters will discover what real love is about...
At its heart, "Sense and Sensibility" is about two girls with completely opposite personalities, and the struggle to find love when you're either too romantic or too reserved for your own good. As well as, you know, the often-explored themes in Austen's novels -- impoverished women's search for love and marriage, entailment, mild scandal, and the perils of falling for a sexy bad boy who cares more for money than for true love... assuming he even knows what true love is.
Austen's formal style takes on a somewhat more melancholy flavor in this book, with lots of powerful emotions and vivid splashes of prose ("The wind roared round the house, and the rain beat against the windows"); and she introduces a darker tone near the end. Still, there's a slight humorous tinge to her writing, especially when she's gently mocking Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood's melodrama ("They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it").
And Marianne and Elinor make excellent dual heroines for this book -- that still love and cherish each other, even though their polar opposite personalities frequently clash. What's more, they each have to become more like the other before they can find happiness. There's also a small but solid supporting cast -- the hunting-obsessed Sir John, the charming Willoughby (who has some nasty stuff in his past), the emotional Mrs. Dashwood, and the gentle, quiet Colonel Brandon, who shows his love for Marianne in a thousand small ways.
"Sense and Sensibility" is an emotionally powerful, beautifully written tale about two very different sisters, and the rocky road to finding a lasting love. Not as striking as "Pride and Prejudice," but still a deserving classic.
on 12 November 2014
I loved the characters, from the manipulative Fanny Dashwood to the handsome stranger in Willoughby and the boring yet kind Colonel Brandon. Marianne had extreme emotions, from falling in love immediately to almost dying of a broken heart. Elinor was the more sensible of the sisters, I felt she depicted Jane Austen in this novel.
There were several aspects of this novel which really represented the time it was written in; marriage and life expectancy. Otherwise this is a timeless story, filled with witty observations and characters you may recognise from your own life.
Marriage was a huge pre-occupation for women in Austen times, it determined everything about their lives. It wasn't just about who they married, it affected what their lifestyle would be, who they would socialise with, who their children could marry. Marrying for money was preferred (mostly by the brides) but everyone else involved didn't think it mattered, much better to marry someone rich who you could grow to tolerate than marry for love and be poor.
Life expectancy also changes everything. At several points in the novel references were made to how long someone could expect to live. Mrs Dashwood (40) was only expected to live another 7 years or so, Colonel Brandon was thought extremely old at 35 to be looking for love, Marianne at 17 was already hoping she wouldn't end up as the maiden aunt. The average life expectancy in 1811 was 36, this includes the working class (80% of the population) so I would expect the middle and upper classes to last a little longer. So the pressure was on to marry and have children as early as possible with a hope of seeing your grandchildren before you're 40.
If you're new to Jane Austen or are intimidated by older novels, my advice is just to dive in. If you like romantic stories, you'll love this. Don't focus too much on the language, you will get used to it as you go through. Focus on the characters and the emotions, they are truly timeless.
I loved this book, it's a great introduction to the Austen world and I can't wait to read 'Pride and Prejudice' next month.
The Dashwood sisters: calm, sensible Elinor, and impetuous and passionate Marianne, are forced to leave their home, Norland Park, after the death of their father when the family estate is left to their half-brother, John. Elinor is especially reluctant to leave Norland, as she has become rather close to a kind but diffident young man, Edward Ferrars, who is the brother of John's grasping wife, Fanny. With their mother and much younger sister, Margaret, Elinor and Marianne move into a large cottage in the grounds of Barton Park, the home of a kind and generous distant relative, where they meet retired officer and gentleman, the gallant Colonel Brandon, and the dashing, handsome, but unreliable, Mr Willoughby. Later, Elinor is introduced to the seemingly affable Lucy Steele, who does her utmost to ingratiate herself with the Dashwood girls, especially Elinor - however, Lucy has a secret that when revealed is particularly injurious to Elinor, and when Marianne also has her heart broken, Elinor struggles to keep a calm head and cope with the onslaught of emotions that suddenly befall her.
A real pleasure to read, this is a beautifully written, sensitive, yet witty and very entertaining novel, complete with a host of manipulative, deceitful and grasping supporting characters, who contrast well with the sensitive and sensible Elinor and her intimates. I have been reading and re-reading Jane Austen's novels for many years and I cannot remember how many times I have read and enjoyed this story - but one of the main purposes of this review is to talk about the Kindle Whispersync for Voice combination. If you buy one of the Kindle versions, several of which are priced at less than fifty pence, you are now able to download the audio version:Sense and Sensibility (Unabridged) for a couple of pounds (at the time of writing), therefore saving yourself a small fortune. You can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible audiobook without ever losing your place. I bought the Kindle and audio download combination after buying the lovely new paperback version: Sense and Sensibility (Vintage Classics Austen Series) as a gift for someone, which gave me the urge to reread my own copy - however not wanting to break off from my current read, I decided to try the audio download and listened to it happily whilst travelling/gardening etc. Juliet Stevenson's accomplished narration is enjoyable and easy to listen to - she uses a variety of voices for the different protagonists, and although Jane Austen's wonderful writing speaks for itself, Juliet Stevenson's rendition makes each character come even more alive, making this an entertaining and satisfying listening experience.
on 15 May 2014
Sense and Sensibility is a novel full of the joys and woes of love, following the lives of the Dashwood family, and in particular the two sisters Elinor and Marianne who are the embodiments of the title. Elinor is the quietly reserved sister who overflows with good sense and practicality, while Marianne is of a wild romantic sensibility who is quick to love and feel, and does everything with a passion.
When Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars it seems she has found a kindred spirit, but when circumstances keep them apart and he finds himself faced with the prospect of having to marry another, Elinor suffers her heartbreak in silence so as not to trouble her family. However when Marianne falls for Mr Willoughby and gives her heart entirely to him, she also believes she has made a good match, but his true feelings are tested and found wanting when his family threaten to cut him off if he marries Marianne. Edward however faces disinheritance in order to do right by Lucy Steele.
Marianne feels her own heartbreak so keenly that she is completely insensible of her own sister's feelings, and while she plays the melodramatic role of one let down by love, Elinor continues to play the martyr to her own feelings. This novel depicts two sisters seemingly at opposites to each other, one ruled by her head and the other by her heart, however as the novel progresses Marianne appears to reign in her romantic sensibility as she gradually falls in love with the true hearted Colonel Brandon; and at the last Elinor shakes off some of her restraint to allow her to face Edward and tell him how she feels. This is a beautiful edition of a great book.
on 30 January 2014
Sense and Sensibility is without doubt one of my favourite books of all time. Forgetting that it was written by a woman in a time when men dominated in every way Sense and Sensibility is, essentially, a fantastic story.
For those who prefer the underdog, the intelligent, devoted and determined character with quiet compassion and gentleness, there's Elinor. For those who prefer their characters to be outgoing, passionate, trusting and fiercely romantic then Marianne is a foil to Elinor's quiet strength of character. Either way the story of the Dashwood sisters provides enough plot, combined with its socially dictated romance, to make it engrossing - and provide the reader with a very determined view of how you would like the story to end.
Believe me when I say you can begin determined not to have any interest in the romantic dalliances of the Dashwoods, and in turn end up rooting for your suitor of choice as he attempts to earn the affections of his chosen lady. That's not forgetting that this novel is an Austen and therefore littered with female side characters - whether in mocking or not it's refreshing for the landscape of the time to be so female oriented. Humour comes in the form of Sir John and his family, disdain and despair from Willoughby and hope rises in the form of Colonel Brandon, while Edward Ferrars gives us a show of backbone in the novel's final crescendo...in the most painful, annoying way possible. It's a screen shot of Austen's world and she breathes life into it like no other.
There is nothing revolutionary for the modern reader here but there is a gentle breath of a time long gone by and, for me, a fond reminder of my reading this book when I was a teenager (and of course falling in love with Colonel Brandon), curled up in bed with tea and my duvet. A great read for all ages - thoroughly recommended.
Much though I love Pride and Prejudice, and although Lizzie will always be my favourite Austen character, for me Sense and Sensibility is the better of the two books overall. That's not to say it's more enjoyable - P&P definitely wins out on both humour and romance. But in Sense and Sensibility, I feel Austen paints a more realistic picture of the lives of the 'gentry' of her period, and in this book we see much more clearly the constraints placed on young men, as well as on the women. The main thrust of the book is on the contrast of personality between the reserved and sensible Elinor and the frenetic romanticism of Marianne, but for me the more interesting element is what the book tells us about Austen's late 18th/early 19th century society.
The book starts with a similar premise to P&P; the Dashwood family, all girls, find themselves forced to leave their home and reduced to genteel poverty when, on the death of their father, his house and estate pass down through the male line to the girls' half-brother, John. There is, of course, no possibility that the girls could work, so they must survive on the little income they have, and look to kindly relatives (all male) to assist them. The only other alternative is to achieve a good match.
But in S&S, we also see the other side of the coin - Edward (Elinor Dashwood's love interest) is an eldest son and as such has been brought up to be ornamental (which he's not very good at) and useless (a skill he has pretty much mastered). And so his life is not his own - he must marry to please his mother or risk losing the wealth he has grown up to expect. But as a wealthy young man of a good family, he is considered a good match, despite this combination of uselessness and spinelessness. (Edward's eventual `heroism' was forced on him, so he deserves no praise for it.) Then we have Sir John Middleton: a kindly and generous man, distant relative of Mrs Dashwood, who offers the family not just a cottage on his estate, but also his friendship and concern for their future (i.e., marriage prospects). And how do the Dashwoods repay him? By looking down on his taste and manners, and the vulgarity of his relations by marriage. The nuances of a multi-tiered class-ridden society, where every tier is jealous of the one above while despising those below, are already becoming clear.
There are things I don't like about S&S, but these too tend to shed light on the same class divides and gender roles. Lucy Steele is a much-maligned young lady, in my opinion. Why shouldn't she have become betrothed to Edward? Should she really have said 'No, no, I am too vulgar to marry such a sophisticated (and rich) young man'? What was it they all despised her for, except her birth and lack of education - two things she could not control? Why is Edward considered noble for sticking to an engagement he entered into willingly, while Lucy is reviled for not freeing him from it? Is Mrs Dashwood's desire to marry her daughters to rich, or at least well-established, men any different to Lucy's desire to escape her relative poverty through rich connections? And since everyone despises her anyway, why shouldn't she act as she does at the end? I'm always rather glad that things work out for Lucy - she reminds me a little of a less entertaining, but more successful, Becky Sharp.
And then there's Colonel Brandon - and of course I love him. But I can't help feeling a little queasy that he fixes his passions on a seventeen-year-old girl barely out of the schoolroom and clearly immature. But he's a rich landowner, and so again seen as a good match, and although Marianne makes it clear from the outset that she sees him as an old man, her entire family encourage her to think of him as a potential suitor. Would they have had he been poor, or even just comfortably off? Lastly Willoughby (the hottest boy in the county, according to the blurb for the Joanna Trollope remake) - a rake, yes, but does what he does because he can't face disinheritance and, despite ruining one young woman and breaking another's heart, gains back his place in respectable society within a very short space of time, by making a good though loveless match.
Not as sparkling as P&P, but with much more depth, Sense and Sensibility shows more clearly how this society operated through family alliances and marriage, with the young people of both sexes expected to conform to the wishes of their elders and marry for social advancement. While Lizzie and Jane are whisked off at the end, Mills & Boon style, to great houses and handsome men, the matches made by Elinor and Marianne are less glitzy but probably more realistic. Both books are great in their own right, but together they give a much fuller picture of the nuances of this complex society, where money and birth determined status and worth in an ever-fluctuating pattern. Needless to say, really, but highly recommended.
I read the book in the highly recommended Delphi Complete Works of Jane Austen (Illustrated) for Kindle.
on 12 November 2012
Sense and Sensibility, the first of Jane Austen's major novels, revolves around Elinor and Marianne, two daughters of Mr Dashwood by his second wife. They have a younger sister, Margaret, and an older half-brother named John. When their father dies, the family estate passes to John, and the Dashwood women are left in reduced circumstances. The novel follows the Dashwood sisters to their new home, a cottage on a distant relative's property, where they experience both romance and heartbreak. The contrast between the sisters' characters is eventually resolved as they each find love and lasting happiness. Through the events in the novel, Elinor and Marianne encounter the sense and sensibility of life and love.
I love the sharp insight that Jane Austen can provide into the character and motivations of her creations. Sense and Sensibility is the portrait of two very different sisters: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Elinor is practical and disciplined, Marianne is capricious and emotional, yet they share a troubled and impoverished family background, and both must struggle to achieve the happiness they deserve. Ranged against them are the forces of a society where men and masculinity dominate; Elinor and Marianne have to balance their emotional needs against the harsh financial realities of the world at large.
Sense and Sensibility is vintage Jane Austen; a chronicle of romantic misfortunes, narrated with irony and a sharp eye for hypocrisy. A powerful drama of family life and growing up, the novel is at once a subtle comedy of manners and a striking critique of early 19th century society. Austen's subtle wit and her masterful observation of her characters have rendered a novel that is, at heart at least, a romance into a real page-turner. No one does romantic twists and turns as well as Jane Austen and some of the twists in Sense and Sensibility will make your jaw drop. Although perhaps not quite so sublime as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility is still highly recommended.
All right - let's get the basic view out of the way. Sense and Sensibility is overshadowed by Pride and Prejudice. No argument with that. But it shouldn't take anything away from what is Austen's first novel, which she began writing at the age of twenty and published five years later.
The plotting is intricate, the twists plausibly surprising, the developments firmly character-based, and the characters themselves nicely differentiated, often with the author's gentle sense of humour. The central figures - Elinor and her sister, Marianne, and their various and varied admirers - provide the suspense, the pathos and the ultimate resolution, but there is amusing counterpoint from the supporting cast. Sir John is never happy unless he is inviting young people to his home for a dance, Mrs Jennings provides the gossip, even the unfortunate Lucy Steele is never mocked unsympathetically.
Cameo roles are provided by the Palmers. Mr Palmer is "a grave looking young man of five or six and twenty, with an air of more fashion and sense than his wife, but of less willingness to please or be pleased." At his first entrance, he "slightly bowed to the ladies, without speaking a word,and, after briefly surveying them and their apartments, took up a newspaper from the table and coninued to read it as long as he staid." Later, asked if there was any news in the paper, "No, none at all," he replied, and read on.
Two centuries after they were created, Jane Austen's people are vividly alive and monstrous entertaining.
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's first published novel, is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Marianne is young and flirtatious and has very set ideas about what sort of person her true love, her knight in shining armour will be. Elinor, much more restrained, mature and sensible, has quite a different attitude to life and love. Both meet the man they believe is for them, but for neither does the course of true love run smooth. This charming novel has some very likeable characters, as well as a few to despise or disdain, and plenty of muddles, misunderstandings and wrong assumptions. Altogether a delight to read: easy to understand why this is a classic.