Reason and Impetuosity

I’m quite behind with my posting here, as have been putting up my reviews on LibraryThing and forgetting all about my blog! So there’ll be a flurry of posts today, which by no means should be taken to mean that I’ve read these books all at once!

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ★★★

Sisters Elinor Dashwood (the elder and reasonable one) and Marianne Dashwood (the younger and impetuous one) are at the heart of this romantic novel. Their father has passed away, leaving the bulk of his fortune to his son John from a previous marriage, entrusting him with the care of his sisters and step-mother. But John’s wife Fanny, a selfish and wonderfully disagreeable woman, soon convinces him that the best he can do is to give them nothing at all and store away the bulk of his inheritance for their young son’s future prosperity. Money plays a large part in this novel, as does the importance of marrying into it, and the sisters, with their limited fortune must consider marrying well. While taking a walk one day, Marianne trips and falls to be immediately rescued by the dashing young Willoughby, who conveniently happens to be walking by at that moment. With all the ardour of her immaturity and spirit, and with Willoughby’s constant attention, Marianne falls hopelessly in love and it is quickly assumed that the young couple are engaged to be married, but Marianne is soon bitterly disappointed by the young playboy and much drama ensues. Meanwhile, Elinor discretely pines after her Edward only to discover one day that he is secretly engaged, but she suffers in silence as Marianne stomps around pouting and crying bitter tears and falls dangerously ill from a broken heart. Many complications ensue. Then, many sudden convenient plot twists occur, and both ladies find love and eternal wedded bliss and material comfort after all. The End.

This was my fist Jane Austen novel and I was at first immediately charmed by her irony and the witty dialogue, in particular when describing the unpleasant Fanny Dashwood and other secondary characters, such as Edward’s fiancée Lucy Steele. But the drama! The bitter disappointments! The dashed hopes which are magically restored! It was too much like a soap opera for me and I couldn’t help but groan and wish for zombies to come in and bite people’s heads off, even though zombies really aren’t my thing. Will I read more Austen novels? Yes, I plan on reading Pride and Prejudice next. Am I likely to be counted among Austen’s legions of devoted fans? Not likely, if I don’t find a stronger injection of irony thrown into the mix. But one can always hope.

This review can also be found on LibraryThing
Illustration by Richard Wilkinson

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