Sense and Sensibility

Rating: +

Jane Austen

I have read Sense and Sensibility many times, but I just recently read it again so it is fresh in my mind. While this was not one of my favorite novels by Austen when I first read it, upon re-reading it I've decided that it may be one of the best written of her books, though it still doesn't have the emotional resonance for me that some of her other books have.

The general story is about three sisters whose father has died and who are forced to move into a smaller house with their mother after a half-brother inherited their father's estate. The four women move to a cottage in the country where they become friends with the neighbors and encounter or are visited by young men who are in varying degrees of love with the two older sisters. The sisters are disappointed in different ways (of course - this is a Jane Austen novel after all) and there are misconceptions and people's true characters are gradually revealed.

What I think gives this book so much depth is that the characters in the book (even the sisters, who are the protagonists) are not simply good or bad. The characters all have justifications for acting as they do. In some cases, the justifications are consistent with how those people seem to be, and in some cases we see good people doing good things for bad reason, and bad people doing things for reasons that lead us to believe they may not be as bad as we thought. Basically, there are two sides to most of the characters.

On top of that, there is the same sharp dialogue and social observations that make Austen's books appealing to so many of her fans (including me). There is love and romance, though with less of an idealized ending than some of her other books, such as Emma or Pride and Prejudice, which I found somewhat more realistic and satisfying, if less fairy-tale-like.

A definite '+': a must-read for anyone who's liked a book by Jane Austen, and I highly suggest re-reading this book even if you already have read it.


Review written September 1999.


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