When Marianne Dashwood falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Jane Austen has done it again.  While not my favourite piece of Austen’s work, Sense and Sensibility was a fantastic novel and I really enjoyed it.  As with most of her books, Austen brings the same lively wit which has long characterised her writing and the thorough examination of class systems so often featured within her narratives.

The two elder Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, could not be more opposite in temperament, tastes, and just about every other point, yet there is little that could separate them from one another.  When their father dies and their half-brother takes possession of all they had, the young Miss Dashwoods and their mother are forced to move from their home to a humble cottage in Devonshire.  Being two of the most handsome women around, Elinor and Marianne’s lives are soon turned upside down by love.  

The steadfast and practical Elinor draws the attention of Mr Edward Ferrars, the shy elder brother Elinor’s sister-in-law, while a sprained ankle and ride in the rain marks the start of the senseless and indecorous courtship between Marianne and the charming Mr John Willoughby – much to the chagrin of Colonel Brandon who’s affection for Marianne is no secret.  As the sisters find themselves falling deeper in love 

I’m not going to lie, it took me quite some time to get into this book and, once I had, it never fully drew me in.  Not Austen’s strongest piece, Sense and Sensibility was slow and uneventful much of the time.  It was her characters that really pulled this story up.  Highly intelligent, quick witted and individually flawed, every character has their own place in the story.  

I spent the entire time just longing for a happy ending to come along for the Dashwood women, particularly Elinor and Marianne – two women with perhaps the worst luck when it comes to matters of the heart. Elinor is such a strong and controlled character, hiding her pain from the world so well that when her suffering is exposed, it is all the more tormenting.  I cried alongside Elinor, felt her sorrow and was confronted by her breakdown.  As for Marianne, she is a lively and lovely girl but I really couldn’t bring myself to like her personality.  She was a fantastic character but her open manner, quite the opposite of her sister, made her seem rather insipid and shallow to me.  I felt, through the actions of both sisters, keenly aware of what made them so at odds with each other.

As for our main men, Mr Edward Ferrars is a sweetheart, John Willoughby a scoundrel that I just wanted to punch.  But it was Colonel Brandon who completely stole my heart.  With an unpleasant romantic history and a sensitive soul, there is little he would not have done for the woman he loved.  I loved most that he never got jealous or acted out, he never felt he was owed love, never worked to undermine the woman he loved or force her into a relationship she wasn’t wanting.  It was heartbreaking how little he thought he deserved and no man deserves more love.  It may also be my undying love of Alan Rickman’s portrayal that makes me love him so much – I’ve never felt more moved.

A little slow and uneventful at times, Sense and Sensibility never really drew me in because of it’s plot.  Despite my disinterest in the plot, the characters made it an enjoyable read and got me through it.  

I have read quite a number of reviews where they loved the story and some others where they didn’t so I’d recommend you read it and make up your own mind, it may become your new favourite Austen.

Rating: 3/5

Grab this book from Amazon or Book Depository or, like all Jane Austen books, from your nearest secondhand bookstore.

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