Sense and Sensibility
1811 – Classics
The Story: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood experience the highs and lows that accompany falling in love with men that may or may not love them back. They also attend a lot of dinner parties, play cards in the evenings, and take so many walks through the countryside.
The Opening Line: The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex.
“A woman of seven-and-twenty,” said Marianne, after pausing a moment, “can never hope to feel or inspire affection again.”
“I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness. I have frequently thought that I must have been intended by nature to be fond of low company, I am so little at my ease among stranger of gentility!” -Edward Ferrars
What I Loved (Potential Spoiler Alert! Tread with Caution!): As with pretty much every Jane Austen novel ever, everything ends happily. The main characters always form good marriages with real affection. Conflicts are resolved and forgiveness granted. And (gasp!) the girls never have to worry about sinking into real poverty because there is always enough money to live on comfortably. I know going in to an Austen novel that I probably won’t have to resort to throwing the book across the room in anger over the ending.
What I Didn’t Love: Oh, Marianne! I just don’t understand you. You seem so wrapped up in yourself, so selfish that you don’t even know your own sister’s personality. Your emotional states give me whiplash. One second you are jumping for joy, the next you are sobbing in desolation. And yet you still make me feel sorry for you. How does that work?
Final Thoughts: This was my first time reading Sense & Sensibility and also the first book I’ve read for this year’s Austen in August. A lot of other participants love this novel, so I was fairly confident that I would enjoy it. And overall, I did. Even though certain things rubbed me the wrong way – Willoughby being a jerk, Colonel Brandon’s constant affection for Marianne, John and Fanny’s complete disregard for family – I was happy to see everyone come out on top. And I’m pretty excited that I’ve now read half of Austen’s core novels. Next up for Austen in August, Longbourn by Jo Baker.