Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

'”Elinor, starting back with a look of horror at the sight of him, obeyed the first impulse of her heart in turning instantly to quit the room, and her hand was already on the lock, when its action was suspended by his hastily advancing, and saying, in a voice rather of command than supplication:
  'Miss Dashwood, for half an hour–for ten minutes–I entreat you to stay... My business is with you, and only with you.'
  'With me!'–in the utmost amazement–'well, sir–be quick–and if you can–less violent.'
   'Sit down, and I will be both.'
   She hesitated, she knew not what to do... After a moment's recollection... concluding that prudence required dispatch, and that her acquiescence would best promote it, she walked silently toward the table and sat down.”
                                                                                                                                                            -from Sense & Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility is surely the classic romance encapsulated: contrasting pairs of sisters, mysterious suitors, dastardly suitors, secrets, and (though it is only spoken of) even a duel between a hero and villain. Perfection indeed. Yet, though it has so much of what could be excitement and even scandal in that which takes place, it is all written in an elegance of style and tone–with a delicate handling of dialogue and description that tells so little and says so much. Clever writing, indeed, as such a tactic keeps you happily coming back for more! That and the characters are so straightforward and everyday-like and yet have an aura of romance around them, too.

I feel as though I grew up on the story, yet on each concentrated rereading I experience something new. For instance, I have always had a hearty dislike for Willoughby–nothing extremely personal, but he divides Colonel Brandon from Marianne and for that I could not forgive him. On this reading, however, I found myself catapulting along with Elinor’s thoughts upon the subject. (Note: I said Elinor not Marianne. M goes a little to far with her feelings.) I almost wish W and M could have been united...but not quite. Willoughby's character and actions are at all times utterly selfish while on the other hand Colonel Brandon truly deserves and loves her. I regret nothing. Another thing noted was that Marianne did not become ill with love for Willoughby, but from shock at his true character, actions, and what his designs upon her might have been. Very slight difference, but adds a great deal to her character.

At the end of this reading I came away with my feelings once more cemented. Though I love the rest of Miss Austen's stories as well, Sense & Sensibility is and always will be my favorite.

Note: This is my third review for the Jane Austen Review Challenge.

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