Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
3 out of 5 stars
Maybe I'm not destined to be an Austen-ite. I enjoyed this novel, maybe a little less than Pride & Prejudice (which I can see myself rereading and enjoying more the second time), but I just can't get into them like others. This one seemed overly long; it really dragged in the middle, but the ending was super rushed. Also, it's like Austen was using her first 350 pages to try and prove that money doesn't buy happiness, love conquers all, etc...and then she used her last 9 pages to completely disprove that. And that's my super short review lol, but I guess maybe I should say a little more? (I'm not going to worry too much about spoilers, since it is a classic, so be warned if you haven't read it & want to still!)
Okay, so this book is essentially about 2 sisters, Elinor (the older, around 17-18?) and Marianne (16-17) Dashwood, and their quest to find love. When their father dies suddenly and leaves them with very little money, they are forced to move with their mother and younger sister to a small cottage owned by a distant cousin. The girls' half-brother is willing to help them out with a yearly allowance and such, but is "convinced" by his wife that they don't need it, it would be an insult, they just can't afford it, and so on. There was some dry wit going on in this book, similar to P&P, that made it quite enjoyable. Also, I think the believability of this world compared to P&P is much higher...this is a story about life and the happenings of the common, normal people.
Elinor is the "sensible" one, always calm and responsible, even when the man she loves & thinks loves her turns out to be engaged to another woman. Ouch. "Always resignation and acceptance. Always prudence and honour and duty. Elinor, where is your heart?" Marianne, on the other hand, is passionate, outgoing, careless at times, and knows exactly what she wants in a man...or thinks she does. "I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings: the same books, the same music must charm us both.”
The relationship between the two sisters was enjoyable to read. Neither can understand why the other acts the way they do, especially with matters of the heart. When Marianne is heart-broken over that cad, Willoughby, she moons about for ages, making everyone around her miserable too. Elinor nurses her sister for weeks, even though she too is going thru a terrible time. Honestly, I feel like Elinor had it worse off...she had a more "real" relationship with Edward and then that little skank, Lucy Steele, shows up and rubs it in her face that nope, that's her man and she wasn't letting him go. Ugh, I hated Lucy. But she kept it all closed up inside so as not to make her mother and sister suffer more.
“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering? For weeks, Marianne, I've had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”
I think I identified more with Elinor, but that could just be because this was her story. If it had been Marianne's point of view, there would have been more action and suspense for sure. But would she have been reliable? Probably about as much as Mrs Jennings, the old biddy-boddy gossip lol. I loved that old lady, by the way. And what about the romantic leading men? Eh, not so much. Edward was kind of a weenie and Willoughby, you just knew was going to be a jerk after he left so suddenly. My favorite, by far, was Colonel Brandon even though I think he ended up with the wrong girl. This might put me in the minority, but I think he was much more suited for Elinor and I think it was a severe disservice to his character to have Marianne "settle" for him in the end. Actually, I think it was a disservice to Marianne too. Like I said above, I was dissatisfied with the ending. The way she wrote it didn't make Marianne and Brandon's romance believable to me. In the slightest. But, that isn't going to stop me from trying more Austen and I think I'll go for Persuasion next. In a few months. ;)