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Beautiful edition of this wonderful book. Don't be afraid of Jane Austen, she is a joy to read.
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.