Friday, December 10, 2010

Fiction Friday - SENSE AND SENSIBILTY by Jane Austen

Do you ever have those times when all you want to do is sit back with an old friend and have a good chat? Times when you'd give anything for just a few minutes of peace and quiet to catch up with your pal except your pal died 193 years ago so you have to settle for reading one of the spectacular books she wrote? Yeah, me too.

I firmly believe that had I had the chance to know Jane Austen we would have been great friends. She was spunky and witty and completely divine and the work she left behind is an unmatched commentary of life and the role and expectations of women in society in the late 1700s. Of her six completed novels Sense and Sensibility is my favourite except for Pride and Prejudice, oh and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion...anyway, it is one of my top six favourite Jane Austen novels.

Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters who are polar opposites. Elinor, the elder sister, is practical, levelheaded and responsible whereas Marianne, the younger sister, is emotional, sentimental and impulsive. Although both sisters find themselves disappointed in love, it is how they each deal with the disappointment and what they learn about themselves and each other that propels the story.

Austen created a cast of characters that bring humor and light and charm to this novel in a way that is truly timeless. From the selfish sister in law to the nosey neighbors to the empathetic and unlikely rescuer of the Dashwoods, the characters give the landscape of country cottages, rolling hillsides and opulent galas colour and life. The joys and heartaches experienced by the Dashwoods are so universal that contemporary readers will easily find themselves identifying with these characters and the journey they are on.

I love classic literature so much that it never occurred to me that some readers find Austen, Dickens and Bronte too daunting and therefore stick with contemporary fiction. How sad! So today my hope is to inspire just one person who has never spent an afternoon with Jane to pick up Sense and Sensibility (the book first, then you may watch the movie) get lost in her world of wit and charm and recovered love.

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