Publication Date: Originally published in 1811
Publisher: 2008, Random House Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Elinor is as prudent as her sister Marianne is impetuous. Both sisters must learn from the other after they are forced to leave their home and enter into the contests of polite society after the untimely death of their father. The charms of unsuitable men and the schemes of rival ladies mean that their paths to success are stocked with disappointment, but together they attempt to find a way to happiness.
Sense and Sensibility is the only Austen novel where I saw the movie before I read the book. The 1995 movie, starring Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet, made me fall half in love with Col Brandon (Alan Rickman clinched the deal in his role as Snape).
What I Liked: I think I enjoyed this book more because of how I could picture the characters from the movie, than because of how they emerged from the book. It lost a bit for me going from a movie, even one so loyal to the novel, to the book itself.
Of the Dashwood sisters, it was Margaret Dashwood who drew my attention, but still a child she doesn't get much page space and doesn't earn a place for herself as a romantic interest.
So it was the romances of Marianne, with Willoughby and with Col Brandon, that kept me involved in this story. I almost preferred Willoughby for his rash and passionate love, for although his avarice lost him Marianne, he truly loved her. He turned away from her, in the end doing her a greater service than standing by her, because, let's face it, they would never have done well together.
Fortunately, Col Brandon is a stand up figure with a more mature passion to offer Marianne, and is probably the only person who could keep her entertained and interested, while also keeping her under control (in a non-creepy way).
What I Didn't Like: Elinor bores me. I find her incredibly dull. I know, eventually, she shows her feelings, and her loyalty provides Edward and herself with the opportunity to live off Brandon's generosity, blah blah blah. She has more attitude than Jane Bennet, or Anne Elliot, but she manages to bring a completely dull romance to the book because she has no gumption. Fortunately for the 1995 film, Hugh Jackman and Emma Thompson make an endearingly sweet pairing as Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars.
The latest BBC mini-series, from 2008, is another brilliantly made adaptation of the novel. It certainly seems to appeal to me more as a film than as a book.