Blurb: In 1811, Jane Austen's first published work, Sense and Sensibility, marked the debut of England's premier novelist of manners. Believing that "3 or 4 families in a country village is the very thing to work on," she created a brilliant tragicomedy of flirtation and folly. Romantic walks through lush Devonshire and genteel dinner parties at a stately manor draw two pretty sisters into the schemes and manipulations of landed gentry determined to marry wisely and well. Neither sense nor sensibility can guarantee happiness for either--as romantic Marianne falls prey to a dangerous rascal, and reasonable Elinor loses her heart to a gentleman already engaged. Wonderfully entertaining yet subtle and probing in its characterizations, Sense and Sensibility richly displays the supreme artistry of a great English novelist.
ReviewI am at a complete loss as to how to write a review for this amazing novel by Jane Austen. As her first published work, I am very pleased with it. It has everything within it that I love in a book: romance, scheming, mystery, heartache, characters I love to hate.
The story revolves around two leading ladies, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood: sisters who view the world and react to it entirely different from the other. While Elinor reacts to situations with sense and logic, never allowing for her emotions to get the best of her and sometimes coming off as cold or uncaring, Marianne reacts to everything with sensibility (in this case it is defined as responding delicately, sensitively and animated) and allowing her emotions to envelope her completely. It is because of these personalities that they end up in the situations they do. Marianne falls head over heals for a man she has just met, allowing herself to flirt and fall prey to his schemes, not realizing until it was too late that he was only using her for his own amusement. Elinor ends up falling for a man who is already engaged, and while her friends and acquaintances joked that they should be together, they never realized how strongly Elinor felt for the man because she never showed it. It is because of these actions that she ends up blindsided with the information of his engagement by the very woman he is engaged to, while the woman fueled by jealousy uses the engagement to further increase Elinor's misery by explaining that they have been engaged four years and that she cannot tell a single soul, leaving Elinor to grieve alone while tending to her sisters broken heart.
Much of their circumstance is based solely on the society that they live within, where money rules all and those who do not have it are left in the dust. Because of Elinor and Marianne's lack of estate, they are forced to find men who can take care of them. They both fall for men who are as broke as, if not poorer than, they and it is their poorness that causes these men to behave in the manner towards these women that they do. Marianne's gentleman is forced to find a woman with money because he has none, and Elinor's was forced to keep his engagement a secret for so long because his rich mother wished his marrying a wealthy woman and to go against her wishes would cause him to lose any inheritance he may receive from her.
Jane Austen shows us through all of this just how much money ruled the society in which she lived and not just what it did to young women but also what it did to society as a whole. Many of the characters within the story have money, but they refuse to help those who need it (including family) and look down upon those that don't have it. Though there are some who take pity upon the girls, such as Colonel Brandon and Mrs. Jennings, most don't even give their situation half a care in the world, this including their brother John Dashwood, who receives the biggest part of their father's money after his passing, and his wife convinces him that his mother and three sisters need far less money than they. It is a vicious world they live in, yet in the end, both girls manage to find happiness within it. If you haven't read this wonderful novel, I strongly suggest you do so. I love reading about the past and the world in which people used to live and I believe this shows one very vividly what it was like to live in that world.
I rate this book:
"I wish as well as everybody else to be perfectly happy but like everybody else it must be in my own way. Greatness will not make me so." -page 77