Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

From the price label at the back, I see that I got this copy above for S$3 from a clearance sale at Carrefour supermarket some (many?) years ago, and apparently chucked it onto a bookshelf and forgot all about it. When I looked through the few shelves there are in my tiny flat, to see if there’s anything I might be interested to re-read, I saw that I had some completely new books! Well some not technically new, as they were purchased from second-hand bookstores. But this one was ‘new’.

I haven’t seen the 1995 adaptation by Ang Lee, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, which scored an Oscar-winning adapted screenplay by Emma, acting nominations for both her and Kate, plus other nominations for stuff like original score and costume design.

I thoroughly enjoyed this chick lit of the early 19th century. Sense and Sensibility was first published in 1811. Anonymously, with the notation ‘By a Lady’, as were all her other novels, including the two that were published posthumously: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Jane Austen passed away in 1817 at the young age of 41 after a long illness.

Like Pride and Prejudice, the only other Jane Austen novel I’ve read, Sense and Sensibility is a joyously charming novel. It revolves around the two Dashwood sisters: Elinor and Marianne, with Elinor being the main protagonist.

The  characters are fun to know and follow, even the wicked ones, and the storyline that revolves around them is engaging, with some suspenseful twists, even, right to the end. The character development of Marianne is stunning, as well as some others like Mrs. Jennings. On the other hand, I didn’t care much for Edward Ferrars, the man Elinor has some affection for. I wanted her to end up with Colonel Brandon, who by the way was only a little bit more interesting to me. I didn’t root for any of the male characters in this novel, they were all pretty vapid compared to Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice who was an absolute delight.

It’s interesting how Margaret was almost completely ignored. She’s the youngest; there were actually three Dashwood sisters. Maybe Jane Austen created her so that it was not implausible for Elinor and Marianne to leave their mother behind in Barton Cottage while they were in London for many weeks. There was Margaret to keep Mrs Dashwood company.

Anyway, I love this novel. I really appreciate how even though it was written over… oh my goodness, I just realized it’s exactly 200 years old. Wow. That’s incredible. That it was written over 200 years ago and yet it’s so sparkly fun and refreshing and spontaneous. Not some heavy sombre tome, but a romance, and such an entertaining one.

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