I always intend to write an objective review, and am always thrown by my inability to be objective while reading fiction.
Sense and Sensibility has been sitting on my bookshelf since Christmas three years ago, when I suddenly realized I had a huge crush on Alan Rickman. I meant to read it immediately…and yet, I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s one of those books that was waiting for me to be ready for it.
Elinor and Marianne are two sisters who think they know where their lives are going. Their marriages (and, in that society, that was their entire future) were all but settled. And then each has something happen that changes everything. They handle it different ways, Elinor being governed by Sense, and Marianne being prey to her Sensibility.
(I loved Elinor, truly, but I am Marianne and she is me.)
Throughout their grief, however differently they manage it, the book shows that their sisterly bond is stronger than any difference of opinion they have. Theirs was the most rewarding relationship of the book. Don’t get me wrong: the romance was nice. But the romantic happy endings were rushed; and it wasn’t even upsetting because, as much as I was “shipping” each couple, that wasn’t where my emotional investment was. It was the sisters.
The fact that I was this emotionally invested 203 years after the book was originally published-that I could so easily relate to Marianne and compare my own romantic disappointment to hers-proves that Jane Austen was a writer ahead of her time. There’s a timelessness to her understanding of human nature and how she develops her characters emotions and motives. Despite the relative antiquity of their diction, I was constantly reacting to the characters with modern phrases like “Screw you” and “My babies.”
I’m glad I read it now when I could relate to it the way that I did. It’s amazing when literature can reach across the years that way. Jane Austen was a brilliant commenter of society in her day…and the particulars of human nature haven’t changed that much.
If you haven’t read Austen since high school, this is a great one to get started on. You’ll fall in love with Elinor and Marianne.