Date of Publication: 1811
Number of Pages: 312 (Barnes & Noble paperback edition)
Synopsis (from back cover): Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is a wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor’s reason nor Marianne’s passion can lead them to perfect happiness – as Marianne falls for an unscrupulous rascal and Elinor becomes attached to a man who’s already engaged.
Startling secrets, unexpected twists, and heartless betrayals interrupt the marriage games that follow. Filled with satiric wit and subtle characterizations, Sense and Sensibility teaches that true love requires a balance of reason and emotion.
Review: For a long time, this was one of my least favorite of all Jane Austen’s novels. But having re-read it recently (it was the first selection for our Jane Austen Book Group on The Book Club Forum), I found myself falling in love with the story for the first time. Elinor is a heroine that one can easily love and respect, especially in the way she controls, and yet deeply feels her emotions. Marianne, however, did grate on my nerves some, but I respect her allowing herself to give herself completely to Willoughby. Elinor and Marianne really do seem like opposite sides of the same coin: one hold everything in, one lets everything out.
This book also has some of the best comic characters, especially Mrs. Jennings, the jolly matchmaker. One has to admit how uninteresting her life has to be if her ambition is to marry off every eligible young woman she meets! I also think that Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood, the sisters’ half brother and sister-in-law are hilarious in their coldness and selfishness. You can tell that John likes to think of himself as charitable toward his sisters, but in reality he is completely self-centered. His wife, Fanny, is a wonderful villain for the book; she makes her husband seem positively warm.