Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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“There is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.”

Ever wanted to read something different, maybe out of your comfort zone? If so, this could be perfect for you. Written at the height of Jane Austen’s writing career, this book concerns themes of romance, wealth, and the place of women in society. Not to mention, forbidden engagements, suspense, and the complications of inheritance during the 19th century.

The story is about the Dashwood family, particularly the sisters Elinor and Marianne. It begins as they have to leave their childhood home, the Norland estate, for Barton Park after their father’s timely death. However, Elinor has already fallen in love with Edward Ferrars who she must leave. This attachment seems meaningless at the time but later resurfaces. Meanwhile, at Barton, Marianne falls madly in love with Willoughby, a handsome yet unsuitable young man. The future of the family seems neutral until certain events reveal some people are not what they seem.

The overall idea of the story is that you need to find the perfect balance of sense and sensibility. Sense is defined as, “the characteristic of having good judgment, especially when it is based on practical ideas or understanding”. This is the basis of Elinor’s character. She is the mentor and essentially the brains of her excitable, romantic family. Marianne, on the other hand, is the definition of sensibility. She is wildly passionate and her feelings are always extreme. The acute contrast makes them both seem like caricatures of their sense and sensibility. The story is set in a time between the classical and romantic periods. Elenor reflects the classical and Marianne the romantic.

I found the progress of the book quite slow as you have to wait for a few chapters to get to the next event and there were very few dramatic scenes. Even so, I felt the extensive descriptions of the characters ensured you are invested in the character and care about what happens next to them. 

I would recommend this to you if slow-moving, casual books interest you. You may also want to read Emma by Jane Eyre, the story of a young woman who takes it upon herself to be the matchmaker for her town, or Jane Eyre which examines the struggles of women in that time period.

The story might be based on old-fashioned ideas and circumstances but it is still interesting to reflect on in comparison to modern-day situations. Elinor was one of Jane Austen’s favourite characters and reading Sense and Sensibility will ensure she is one of your too.

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