Monday, February 11, 2008

Sense and Sensibility

For Christmas, my parents and I gave Sarah a complete collection of Jane Austen's books (6 in total). Since Sarah and I usually read a book out loud together at nights before bed, she chose to read Sense and Sensibility for our next book.
I was apprehensive but indulging at first. A few years ago, we tried to read Pride and Prejudice together, but I just couldn't stomach the high-faluting language and attitudes of the main characters.
I expected more of the same from Sense and Sensibility, but I was pleasantly surprised. Also surprising was the book's regular dose of humor. Especially toward the end, I found myself laughing out loud almost every night.
It is a beautiful little story of two young women trying to find their way (and their husbands) in the world. One has lots of sense (reason and self-control), and one has lots of sensibility (passion and outward emotion). The book regularly pokes fun at rich people who give so much importance to riches and good standing. The social critique stands, but it is weakened somewhat by the main characters' desires for at least some wealth and servants. The message (possibly not intended this way) is that good character, good education, and good family are far more important than wealth or outward appearance, but nonetheless wealth is still quite helpful at least in moderation.
Reading this book has helped me to understand why Jane Austen is so popular. She has a wry, slanting sense of humor that often catches the reader off guard. Her characters are well developed, very human, and believable. The plot has unexpected twists and turns (one of which upset Sarah because the main character didn't get the guy Sarah thought was best).
Over all, I give Sense and Sensibility 4 j's.
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