I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
'The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!'
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she 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, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. 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. (source)
This is a really great story. Which is to be expected - I mean, it is by Jane Austen, after all. I expected no less, especially since I'd seen the Emma Thompson film version and thoroughly enjoyed it.
First and foremost, I was surprised by how easy it was for me to get into this book. As I mentioned in my review of Mansfield Park, I usually have a difficult time adjusting to Austen's writing style, and the only book by her that I've been able to just pick up and dive right in was Northanger Abbey - even Pride and Prejudice took a whopping 5 attempts before I really got into it (and then fell in love with it). While I didn't find Sense and Sensibility to be quite as easy to read as NA, I had an easier time with it than I did with P&P and I definitely found it much more enjoyable than I did Mansfield Park. I think that part of the reason that I had such an easy time reading this was because I read it with my wonderful tumblr book club. We take turns hosting each book that we read and creating questionnaires to help guide us through the book. My friend Lizzy hosted this one and she did an excellent job - her questions propelled me through the book and kept me motivated to keep reading.
Also, I just love awkward situations in literature. Conveniently, Austen loves putting her characters into awkward situations and this book has SO many. There are just so many absolutely ridiculous characters - Mama Dashwood, Fanny Dashwood, John Dashwood, Mrs. Jennings, the Middletons, Mrs. Ferrars, Lucy, Willoughby... seriously, I could keep going, but I won't. Even Marianne was a piece of work. I'd say that in the whole book the only two characters who most definitely had common sense were Elinor and Colonel Brandon. There were so many instances that I was squirming in my seat because I felt SO bad for Elinor, because she got dragged into these horrible situations all the time by her family and friends. I loved every second of it!
I think Elinor is the Austen heroine who I've been able to relate to the most - not because I'm in a lot of awkward situations (I've been in my fair share, but a good bit of them have been my own fault), but because, like Elinor, I think that I'm a very practical person and I'm pretty serious, for the most part. I'm not quite as polite as she is - like Marianne, I tend to speak my mind - but I think I share many of her qualities. I really enjoyed reading about her and I'm glad that she got a happy ending.
I also think that this book really demonstrates Austen's prowess at character development. Seriously, the woman was amazing. My two examples that I'll point to for this review are Willoughby and Lucy. Willoughby is so complex - he genuinely does love Marianne, but he's so obsessed with prestige and wealth that he snubs her and ends up with a wife who irritates him beyond belief. Austen tells us that he does end up living a relatively happy life, but he still wishes that he'd ended up with Marianne. I thought this was all so fascinating. As for Lucy, Austen did an amazing job of conveying how very classless Lucy is. She develops such little intricate details, even going so far as to give both Lucy and her sister horrible grammar to convey their lack of education. If you've read her books, then you know that Austen is usually full of complicated paragraphs that are perfectly phrased and just wonderful. Well, with the Steeles, Austen pretty much developed a whole new style and it was just awesome.
This book surpassed my expectations, even though they were already pretty high. Out of the four Austen novels that I have read and finished, it's only #3 on my list, but that's simply because NA and P&P are SO good. Sense and Sensibility is much more enjoyable than MP, in my opinion. I have it ranked a bit lower than NA and P&P because I don't think it was quite as humorous as they were and I wish that Elinor had been a bit more sassy. But these qualities aside, Sense and Sensibility is a fantastic book, one that every Austen fan should most definitely read. I highly recommend it!