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Still reading … Sense and Sensibility

austeninaugustrbr-button* CONTAINS SPOILERS

Reading the first few chapters of Sense and Sensibility, I realize I may have internalized so much of the 1995 Ang Lee movie over the last 18 years, it may affect how I experience this book. Anyhoo …

SOME SUPRISES

What surprises me the most about finally reading Sense and Sensibility is (1) how the characters are incredibly well-written by Jane Austen; and (2) how I probably loved Edward because he was played by Hugh Grant.

Jane Austen does a beautiful job creating believable characters. I’m so impressed with how we get to know each character, whether major or minor, through not only her physical descriptions, but following their actions and conversations. It must have been a piece of cake for Mr. Lee and the movie cast to bring the characters to life on screen because they are so vivid on the page. I especially like the more animated characters: Marianne, Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Palmer.

Although I loved the happy ending in the movie, after reading the first half of the book I couldn’t help questioning the lack of anything that proved Edward was in love with Elinor. I know Edward is shy and stuck in a bad engagement, but Austen doesn’t give us anything romantic to hang onto. Not a chance meeting, nor private conversation, nor a secret shared look across a crowded room. Nothing. Elinor always “tells” us that Edward is in love with her, but Austen never “shows” us.

I also feel unsatisfied with Edward in the book because I don’t find his self-deprecation or awkwardness attractive. He doesn’t appeal to me as a hero or love interest. I miss Hugh Grant’s stuttering charm and gentle sarcasm. Hopefully, I feel differently about Edward by the end of the book.

GETTIN’ OLD

I must be getting old because when I first saw the 1995 movie, I was completely on board with Marianne. Even though I identified with Elinor’s inner self-control and talent for tact, I agreed with Marianne that you married for love and nothing but a passion that completely consumed you would do. Now I can only imagine how much Elinor cringed when Marianne gallivanted all over town with Willoughby. I give her credit for not chastising Marianne for her behaviour in public after everything falls apart, but remaining a supportive and loving sister.

Reading the book now at this time of my life, I can relate to Elinor as the more mature, more responsible sister. She doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve and believes one must be realistic when it comes to love and marriage. She is almost the true mother-figure in the family. Of course, this causes a lot of tension between herself and both Marianne and her mother, as they find her humourless and controlling. It drives Elinor deeper inside of herself and we often find her suffering in silence, thinking and over-analyzing things. Is this why we love Elinor? Because she puts aside her own misery to focus on the happiness of her loved ones.

Overall, the first half of the book has been wonderful and I love it. What are you reading for Austen in August?

 

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4 comments on “Still reading … Sense and Sensibility

  1. Roof Beam Reader
    August 7, 2013

    Great thoughts! I’ve never seen the film so I can’t speak to that (but I do have a thing for Hugh Grant!). Elinor Dashwood is one of the characters I most see myself in, although she’s a woman. I might be a mix of her and Mr. Bennet. 🙂

    I’m reading Persuasion (about 65% done) and, so far, it’s my least favorite experience with Austen… but it’s my first time with it and there’s another 35% of the book to go, so who knows? I think I’ve been a bit more captivated by Part Two than Part One (Austen tends to get rolling whenever she starts talking about Bath).

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    • ebookclassics
      August 7, 2013

      Ha ha … I think it’s possible to be a combination of characters. S&S is a wonderful book. I feel it’s unfair of me to be comparing Austen’s work to the movie, but it’s stuck in my head (and maybe my heart). Overall, the movie is a delight and Hugh Grant is adorable as Edward. I highly recommend it.

      Doesn’t Bath have great significance in Mansfield Park as well? Since I’m devouring S&S, I’m thinking of trying Persuasion next. It seems to be another Austen book that readers could either take it or leave it. Look forward to hearing how you feel about the book once you’ve reached the end.

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  2. Lark
    August 9, 2013

    Isn’t it funny how each time you read a classic novel, your opinion of it changes? Especially as you get older and life changes you? Sense and Sensibility is probably the Austen I’ve read the least, but I do love the contrast between the two sisters. (And I especially love the movie version of it with Hugh Grant.) Happy Reading!

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    • ebookclassics
      August 13, 2013

      I really love the contrast between the sisters too. It’s also interesting how Elinor is so even-headed during most of the book and Marianne is more extreme in her feelings, either very happy or very depressed. I hope you are enjoying Austen in August!

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