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Jane Austen's First Look at English Society,
This review is from: Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
Most people who have read Jane Austen will have read Pride and Prejudice. With a title like Sense and Sensibility, most readers will assume that the two books can be interpreted and enjoyed in the same way. Other than having three word titles that employ alliteration in the first and third words, the two novels are more different than similar.
While Pride and Prejudice is primarily about miscommunication, Sense and Sensibility is about the maturation of two sisters as they find themselves confronted by adversity. The former topic allows Ms. Austen more room to roam, but within the later topic she has plenty of opportunities to display her story telling and comic talents. While maturation is an important sub theme in Pride and Prejudice, you see maturation better developed in Sense and Sensibility.
When their father dies, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret find themselves in exile from their family home with their mother. The family estate had been left to their half brother whom their father exhorted to take care of them. But that promise is soon diluted into doing almost nothing through the selfishness of his wife and his vacillation. A relative kindly offers them a country cottage near his home and takes obvious pleasure in their company.
In this new home, Elinor finds herself entertaining the welcome attentions of Edward Ferrars. Her sister, Marianne, is all aflutter over John Willoughby who seems to be committed to her. In fact, everyone assumes that there will soon be wedding bells for Marianne and Willoughby.
All of these pleasant connections are, however, soon disrupted. Willoughby leaves and ignores Marianne. Elinor finds out an unexpected secret about Ferrars that puts her on her caution in pursuing their relationship. As these complications develop, Marianne soon finds herself distraught. Elinor steps into the breach to try to help her sister regain her equilibrium. Both learn what a broken heart can feel like and adjust in their own separate ways.
In vintage Jane Austen style, all bets are off near the end of the book as characters take unexpected steps that open up new possibilities. There's no one quite like Jane Austen for pulling great twists in her romantic comedies. These twists will cause your jaw to drop.
Try not to compare this book to Pride and Prejudice. It's clearly a lesser work, but one that can certainly be enjoyed in its own right.