Girls would wax poetically about Mr. Darcy and how dreamy he was and how romantic the novel was and I just sat there, scratching my head. For most of the novel, he was very mean to Elizabeth Bennett and frankly, I felt as if he did not deserve her. Now Colonel Brandon (and to a lesser extent Edward Ferrars), there was a character where I could understand the infatuation. His constancy of affection throughout the novel is admirable and endearing and he becomes a sort of good guy who you are rooting for to get the girl by the end of the novel.
For those of you unfamiliar with the book or various film adaptations, Sense and Sensibility follows the story of two young women in the Regency period of England, so called because at the time King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son, the Prince Regent, ruled by proxy. Elinor Dashwood, the elder sister, represents sense, logic and restraint while Marianne Dashwood, the younger sister, represents sensibility or romanticism, a sort of girl who puts the feelings of her heart over what is socially acceptable, in a time that had very rigid rules, especially for women, on propriety and courtship.
As I noted in this post, I loved the book and found it very enjoyable to read! The mix of dialogue and prose seemed more equal in this novel than in Pride and Prejudice, which may be one reason I enjoyed it more. It was still not as close to the balance we are used to as modern readers (Austen's works are much heavier on prose than dialogue, telling you who the characters are or what they are thinking instead of revealing some of these truths through dialogue) but it is not so distracting or boring as to slow down the reading of the book.
I felt the middle dragged slightly, especially considering how long it took Austen to get the sisters to London. Having seen the movie dozens of times, I knew there was a great deal more to the story after they arrived in London and I was anxious for the characters to get there! On the flip side, I felt that the ending took far too little time to tie up all the ends--it was as if Austen was done with the story and trying to tie it up as neatly as possible in as little time as possible. This is a criticism I have had of books before, so this might be more of a personal preference thing.
I felt that Austen did a great job fleshing out even the minor characters, like Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings and Mr. John Dashwood. Her descriptions and the dialogue she wrote had me laughing at loud at times, especially when it came to the greedy and petty nature of Mr. John Dashwood. One could definitely see why Jane Austen is known for her acerbic wit and social commentary!
Speaking of social commentary, many of critiques she dishes out could easily be applied to modern day life as well, especially those involving money, greed and social status. This is a tribute to Jane Austen and a testament to why these novels continue to be so popular among modern audiences. Her characters and their plight are relatable and approachable, even if you know nothing about the time and place in which they are set.
So, if you are looking to read a Jane Austen novel and have been intimidated by her works and the writing style before now, might I suggest you start with Sense and Sensibility?! You might actually enjoy it. I know I did!
P.S. Today I'm featured over at Aiukli-Because Life is Beautiful. Check it out here!
P.P.S. As fate would have it, I wrote about Japan and how it is one of the places I most want to visit just days before the earthquake and tsunami. Like many people across the globe, my thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people as they struggle to rebuild.