Book Review//Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen



It is impossible for me to be unbiased about Jane Austen. Let's get that out of the way immediately. Everything she wrote was amazing and all her books are my favorite books. I have read them all over and over since I first discovered her when I was about ten years old. However, if I had to criticize a character in one of her novels it would be Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. I just want to shake her which, I know, means she is a well-drawn, believable character. But, oh my, the overwrought, teenage angst is a bit much for me. I have a lot more sympathy for Elinor and did even when I was a teenager myself. I can relate to the reserved, private character much more than the overly emotional one.

That being said, Marianne is great fun even in the midst of her emotional upheaval. She is such a teenager. Here is her reaction to Colonel Brandon's appreciation of her music.

Marianne's performance was highly applauded. Sir John was loud in his admiration at the end of every song, and as loud in his conversation with the others while every song lasted. Lady Middleton frequently called him to order, wondered how anyone's atention could be diverted from music for a moment, and asked Marianne to sing a particular song which Marianne had just finished. Colonel Brandon alone, of all the party, heard her without being in raptures.  He paid her only the compliment of attention; and she felt a respect for him on the occasion, which the others had reasonably forfeited by their shameless want of taste.  His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that extatic delight which alone could sympathize with her own, was estimable when contrasted against the horrible insensibility of the others; and she was reasonable enough to allow that a man of five and thirty might well have outlived acuteness of feeling and every exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life which humanity required. 

That is why I read Jane Austen over and over. What an absolutely perfect picture of several characters in only a few sentences.

Here is another passage where Marianne is very sentimental and emotional and it makes me laugh every time.

"And how does dear, dear Norland look?" cried Marianne.
"Dear, dear Norland," said Elinor, "probably looks much as it always does at this time of year.  The woods and walks thickly covered with dead leaves."
"Oh!" cried Marianne, "with what transporting sensations have I formerly seen them fall! How I have delighted, as I walked, to see them driven in showers about me by the wind!  What feelings have they, the season, the air inspired!  Now there is no one to regard them.   They are seen only as a nuisance, swept hastily off, and driven as much as possible from the sight."
"It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves." 

Really, Marianne drives me crazy but I love her at the same time. She is so self-centered and ridiculous and yet, so sincere. She is frequently unkind and inconsiderate but she learns a hard lesson and grows up a bit.

Elinor, well, I think Elinor and I could be friends. We would talk when we felt like it and not say everything we were thinking. We would be dampingly practical when emotions get too high and we would try to pretend our own emotions don't exist. It sounds perfectly reasonable, perfectly sensible.

I can't be the only person who wishes that Elinor ended up marrying Colonel Brandon. Edward Ferrars is a bit of a nonentity. Marianne doesn't deserve Colonel Brandon. Elinor and he would be such a good match. Mrs. Jennings would have been so pleased.

I labeled this post as a book review but it is really just me rambling on about a Jane Austen novel because I can't review her novels sensibly. All I can do is love them but that is more than enough.

6 comments

  1. Oh, there were a few moments when I thought Emma needed a stern talking to, too!

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    1. Absolutely! Emma had a lot of growing up to do.

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  2. Coincidentally Jack has just finished reading this one, his very first Austen, he has been having quite a difficult time reviewing it. Like you I discovered her when I was about ten but I haven't re-read any for ages, it's about time I did.

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    1. So, there are at least three blogs in your family? You, your husband, and your son? I am impressed. I'll have to see what he thought of Sense and Sensibility.

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  3. Have you read Talking/Speaking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G.B. Stern? It's a collection of essays about Austen's books and characters (so you would obviously adore it) and they deal so tenderly with Marianne that it made me entirely reconsider my feelings about her.

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    1. No, I have never heard of that but obviously, now I am going to need to read it. I just received in the mail a few books I ordered after your latest "Library Loot" post.

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