Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Being a huge fan of the Regency Period, I thought that Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen would be a particularly delightful read, but I was horribly mistaken.       

                The book starts off smoothly enough, but within the first few pages of introducing the characters, you start to read in a state of confusion; the language is not favorable, and the book as a whole makes you feel like you’ve eaten a bad roll of sushi.

                The book opens with describing the death of a family member, who leaves his fortune to his son and three daughters, the four of which are half siblings. The son’s wife, who you find out quite easily is a scheming gold digger, convinces him to keep most of the fortune and send his sisters and mother away to a cottage—an action obviously not taken favorably by any of them. The daughters and mother embrace these circumstances with open arms, and set out for the cottage. Once moved there, the daughters begin to meet different men and fall in love with them, but then drama ensues. While one man loves one daughter, he’s secretly engaged to another woman who lives in the next town over, and when the daughter finds out, she’s heartbroken. But then later on after all of the heartache and droning conversations, he comes back to her and confesses his love, and they all live happily ever after. Sounds like a perfect plot to a movie on the Lifetime or Oxygen channel, but makes for a very uncomfortable and boring read.

                Having read and fallen in love with the story of Pride and Prejudice, I expected a lot from Sensibility’s plot. Sensibility seems like a big fumble compared to Prejudice, and it makes me wonder which book Austen wrote first. It seems to me that Prejudice was a big revision of Sensibility—as though Austen realized her mistakes and made very huge efforts to fix them. Both books are similar in plots as well as character dynamics, but Prejudice brings a lot more to the table. After a few chapters of reading Sense and Sensibility, I was hoping the book would pick up in terms of content and that I would begin to like one of the characters, but this wasn’t so, and made finishing the book all the more painful. If you want a taste of that era, don’t bother with Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice is a much better read. When comparing the movies created from both novels, Keira Knightly’s role is much more favorable than Kate Winslet’s, hands down.


Sarah Rau said...

Wow, I'm surprised that one author's two books (that I've always thought were very similar) can be so different. I was curious to which was written first too...according to Google, Sensibility was published first in 1811, with Prejudice published 2 years later. Of course, who knows what order Austen actually wrote them in. I think your thoughts on it are probably dead on though, viewing Sensibility as a sort of rough draft. Very interesting!

BookPaige12 said...

This is interesting coming from the perspective of someone who enjoyed a previous Austen novel. I always thought if you liked one of her's than you like them all! Sadly, and much to the chagrin of my previous English teachers, I have never liked her writing or that style at all. I will read most any realistic fiction, but if I can't understand the language I'm out! I'm surprised this would be recommended to YA readers, as it is very difficult for even adults to read and understand.

cstephens said...

I think I would be cautious about giving teens a book by Jane Austen. I truly believe in reading the classics in literature courses, but as great of a writer as Austen is, I think it would be hard for the students of today to make connections with the novel. I know it can be done, but I would not have enjoyed reading Austen in high school and I was an avid reader. I think her books require a mature appreciation of literature.

Cessacolypse said...

It definitely does require a type of appreciation. I was assigned that type of reading in high school, and I guess since I always had my nose in a book since as long as I can remember, I think I was just open enough to reading it.

Paige, if you do want to get into something 'old' but with much better language, try reading Great Expectations by Charlotte Bronte. It draws you in much more, is so much easier to read [but at a higher level than most YA books] and will keep your interest.

Shachon said...

I love Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility. I don't know which book of Jane Austen, I love more. Sense and Sensibility, full of romance, or Pride and Prejudice, with Emma's spunk. To think that Jane Austen wrote these books so long ago and the themes are still relevant to young people and adult alike. Those opening chapters are an obstacle for most readers. She uses her own vocabulary and has an unusual way of structuring her prose. That structure is a trademark of Austen's writing. Also, she manages to work in a lot of drama and social issues with some humour and irony.