March 6, 2016

Sense and Sensibility~Jane Austen

I never quite knew which Jane Austen book was my favorite. Being that I hadn't yet read all of Jane's books, I would say that Pride and Prejudice was my favorite of her works—but I've now realized it's not. And, until I read Persuasion (it's one of the next books on my TBR list!) I would now say that the book I'm reviewing today is the Austen novel that I absolutely love.

Sense and Sensibility. I have found each of the J.A. books I've read lovely and so well-written. I always forget what an amazing author she is until I read one of her books. But, there had yet to be one that made me cry. Not that that's a bad thing, per say. There are plenty of stories I love that don't make me tear up. But, if a story does make me cry—either from overwhelming happiness or even sadness—I know that the story "connected" with me emotionally.

(But wait. I cried during a Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movie. What am I even saying?? Let's just say stories that make me cry USUALLY becomes my favorites.)

Sense and Sensibility was the first J.A. book that really drew me in emotionally and had me crying for the characters. For Marianne and her broken heart....and for Elinor.

Dear Elinor.

I really and truly related to Elinor SO much in this. More so than any of the movie versions I've watched (the 2008 and the 1995 versions, justincaseyouwerewondering).  
Before reading this book, I never understood why I came out as Elinor on this J.A. character quiz, but I do now. Elinor and I share some common virtues and faults. She handles things much the same way I would. I was really astonished to find just how much I felt for her while reading this. Almost as if I was reading about myself in a Jane Austen story!

Rarely have I ever "met" a fictional character that I so relate to. But, that doesn't mean I'm exactly like Elinor. While quiet and introverted, I don't keep as much "inside" as she does. *spoilers* If I was told that the man I loved is engaged to someone else, you can rest assured my mom would be informed about it. (cough even if I did promise Lucy cough cough) *end spoilers* I share my worries and feelings more easily than Elinor does. 

I feel like this pretty much sums up both Elinor's and my personalities :)

Now as for Marianne....I didn't relate to her very much. Except maybe when she goes into ecstasies over beautiful scenery or walking in the rain. ;) I do share a passionate fondness for nature like she does. And I do admire some aspects of her "open" personality. (I said some, mind you. There are many instances where I think Marianne is down right rude to the people who annoy her.) But you know what? *spoilers* Despite not having much in common with her, I still cried for Marianne when Willoughby broke her heart. She loved him so much—he was unworthy of her love, but she didn't know it. And I just felt so sad for her. *end spoilers* I think I also cried for Elinor. She had so much on her own mind and heart, and she had to be strong for her sister as well. That's hard.

Now we get to talk about the heroes. ;) Edward is not my favorite Austen hero, but reading the book has definitely given me a better appreciation for his character. Also, I think that the 2008 movie version of Edward is much more faithful to the book Edward. Consequently, I picture Edward as Dan Stevens, not Hugh Grant. I have absolutely no problem with that. heehee

*spoilers* The thing is, I used to think Edward was wrong in not telling Lucy that he no longer loved her. If I was engaged to a man, I would want to know if he no longer loved me! I felt that Edward should have at least given Lucy the choice—if she still wants to marry him even though he doesn't love her, well, I'm sure Edward would continue to keep his promise. But if she doesn't, then they should break it off so that they both have a chance for happiness!

But, I've realized something. Any fan of Jane Austen knows that marriage was pretty much the only option open to a woman back then. Marrying a man wealthy enough to support her comfortably was the only choice she had beside living with her parents her entire life! She could not get a job. Even a respectable job like that of a governess wouldn't suit if the lady was born "above" the working class. So, in still agreeing to marry Lucy, Edward was protecting her from the possibility of never marrying. He knew she was poor and thus had a small chance of matrimony. Now, it could be argued that Elinor had a small chance for matrimony as well! But, Edward had already given his promise to Lucy. If he backed out and found that she was still poor and unmarried years later, I think he would feel guilty for that.

*end spoilers*

So, while I don't necessarily agree with all of Edward's methods, I do believe that—no matter his fault— he does try his best to be honorable and just. 

I don't have a lot to say about Colonel Brandon. Except that he was as wonderfully unselfish and caring as he is in the movies.  I love how quiet and dependable he is. He's always ready to help the Dashwoods—or, indeed, anyone! I love that he seems to have grown from a rather rash boy into a wise and exceptionally caring man.

As a small side note, I love that part where he mentions his fight with Willoughby. And Elinor wisely refrains from commenting on it. ;) haha

The Colonel is not my favorite Austen hero either—partly because I could never quite reconcile myself to the age difference between him and Marianne. I'm sorry! The thing is, there are many couples I love with similar age differences (Mr. Knightly and Emma, Arthur and Amy...) so I think the problem lies with Marianne's age more than his. She's not even 19. I just that she were were a bit older. :P

I have a Very Important Scene to discuss. It concerns Willoughby. Toward the end of the book. If you've read it, you know what I'm referencing. The below section contains many *spoilers*. 

Goodness gracious, how could any filmmaker ever leave that scene out?
 (glares at the 1995 writers)
 (glares at the 2008 writers because the scene was not done justice.)

How do I describe how I felt about that scene? I've always felt slightly bad for Willoughby. Well, this scene in the book solidified that feeling. I am not in anyway excusing his mistakes. I think he brought most of his misery upon himself—and, quite frankly, he does deserve it.

But then...don't we all? We all deserve misery and punishment—to the point of eternal separation from Our Lord and Savior. But, we ARE given the chance of redemption. For those of us who are Christians, we've experienced the greatest joy and the only true hope in this world—the hope of eternity in Heaven. 
Willoughby was given this choice too. But he spurned it, preferring to keep his sin and selfishness. I guess that's why I feel bad for Willoughby. I can SEE where he could have changed. I can see what a different sort of man he might have been. I can see where he could have been redeemed.

And in the end, I think that may be one of the keys to making a truly great villain. Give readers the glimpse of humanity—that glimpse of the "could have been". In the end, he's just as horrible as he ever was, because he didn't change. But we know he could have. And that's what makes it truly sad.

In the scene, Willoughby comes to see Marianne, who is dangerously ill. Elinor meets him and allows him to explain to her his "side" of things. Elinor does so reluctantly. At the end of it all, she still holds his actions and selfish nature in abhorrence. But, she tells him that both she and Marianne forgive him. And when he asks whether Elinor thinks better of him, she tells him she does:

"Elinor assured him that she did;—that she forgave, pitied, wished him well— was even interested in his happiness—and added some gentle counsel as to the behaviour most likely to promote it. His answer was not very encouraging.
'As to that,' said he, 'I must rub through the world as well I can. Domestic happiness is out of the question. If, however, I am allowed to think that you and yours feel an interest in my fate and actions, it may be the means—it may put me on my guard—at least, it will be something to live for. Marianne to be sure is lost to me forever. Were I even by any blessed chance at liberty again—'
Elinor stopped him with a reproof.
'Well,'—he replied—'once more goodbye. I shall now go away and live in dread of one event.'
'What do you mean?'
'Your sister's marriage.'
'You are very wrong. She can never be more lost to you than she is now.'
'But she will be gained by some one else. And if that some one should be the very he whom, of all others, I could least bear—But I will not stay to rob myself of all your compassionate good-will, by shewing that where I have most injured I can least forgive. Goodbye,—God bless you!'
And with these words, he almost ran out of the room."    ~Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Of course, we see there that he holds bitter feelings toward Colonel Brandon. He, who is everything Willoughby is not! He who loves and cares (in different ways ;)) for the two young women Willoughby hurt. Even though Willoughby realizes what he's done, his selfish pride causes him to hate the very man he should be begging for forgiveness.

*End Spoilers*

This book has so many wonderful themes, but I'm only going to pick one to mention. When writing this review I realized that imperfect characters abound in this story. Willoughby certainly isn't perfect, Marianne isn't, Edward isn't—even Elinor and Colonel Brandon have their moments of failure. Bad choices are made, mistakes are made, and—by some—an intentional choice of evil is made.
Of course, these mistakes and choices aren't excused or made to look good. But it's true life. Even the best people make mistakes, and I love how truthfully Austen paints her characters.

Sense and Sensibility is a perfectly beautiful and stunning book. Some of the issues mentioned may be deemed a bit "mature" (e.g. A Certain Character's brief relationship with with another character, and subsequently their child born out of a wedlock) but everything is handled with delicacy. It is made clear that such actions are wrong.

If you have yet to read this book, I greatly encourage you to do so. :)

ps. As a quite random note, does anyone know why spellcheck wants to correct "Willoughby" to "Hillsborough"? I mean, come on. :P 


  1. Wonderful post, Natalie!

    I love the story of "Sense and Sensibility." It's just so powerful, no? And the characters are AWESOME. Well, except for Willoughby, that is, haha. I actually like the "apology" scene much better in '08 than in the book itself, to be honest. In the book, I feel like Elinor pities Willoughby TOO MUCH, and that bothers me.

    Colonel Brandon is my favorite Austen hero in the history of ever. End of story.

    I know what you mean about the age difference . . . but it doesn't really bother me. It was just a THING back then, you know what I mean? It was an accepted custom, and I feel like they could've made it work. They really were compatible, I think--a long sight more compatible than Marianne would've been with Willoughby. Especially the way David Morrissey and Charity Wakefield play them in '08. Favorite onscreen Austen couple of all time. (Sorry, Alan-Rickman-and-Kate-Winslet-fans, but I can't help it.) I mean . . . I MEAN. Remember the second-to-last scene? After their wedding, when Colonel Brandon carries her into the house and they're both smiling SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH??? *romantic fangirly sigh* They'll be fine. Don't worry about them. :-)

    1. Thank you, Jessica!

      Yes, it is such a powerful story-I'm so glad you love it too!

      Heehee, I knew he was! I was a little hesitant to admit that he's not my favorite, since I know so many blogging-friends who love him. ;)

      I agree, the age-difference was certainly normal back then. I don't worry about them being compatible AT ALL-I think they fit very well and that they truly do balance each other out while still having a great deal in common. Like I said, I think it's just Marianne's age that puts me off, not the actual difference in their ages. If she were, say, 20 and they still had the same age difference I don't think I'd mind at all. :)

      They ARE adorable in the 2008 version, although I love the 1995 version of them too! :D

      Thank you so much for your comment! :D

    2. That's okay--he doesn't have to be your favorite! We're all different, y'know ;-)

    3. Thank you! Yes, exactly. :)

  2. Beautiful review! Sense and Sensibility for some reason hasn't been one of my favorite of Austen's novels... though I love them all so that's not at all a condemnation. Edward always just irked me too much, though I make excuses for him always. However, I can never get enough of Colonel Brandon. He's amazing and the real hero of the story. I also really love Elinor. She's a great heroine, though I fear I will never be like her.
    Thank you for you review. :)

    1. Thank you, Lois!
      Well, that's all right if it's not your favorite. But yes, I love them all too! Jane Austen is such a wonderful writer. :)
      There are many great heroines I wish I could be like, but know I never will be, so don't feel bad about not relating to Elinor. ;)
      Glad you enjoyed the review! Thank you!!

  3. AH, Beautiful Review! I agree completely on what you said about Whilloughby. (Oh, and do NOT listen to spellcheck. Nasty thing.)

    Yes on the age gap. Yes on Dan Stevens as Edward. Yes on Elinor. I agree with you on basically everything, ha. :-P

    1. Aww, thanks, Naomi!!
      I'm so glad you agree. And heehee, spellcheck is rather horrible, isn't it? :P I'll do as you say. ;)

  4. Oh! What can I say?! This was an excellent, EXCELLENT review, Natalie! Beautifully written and well thought out. You are a very good writer. (And I mean that!)

    It's so neat to hear how much you related to Elinor. I can't think of a heroine in a book that I relate to THAT well, but I'd love to find one sometime. :) "Almost as if you were reading about yourself in a Jane Austen story." Now that's cool. :) ("If I was told that the man I loved is engaged to someone else, you can rest assured my mom would be informed about it." Haha! I LOVE that! That would be me, too. Seriously. You CAN'T keep a secret like that from your mother! You just CAN'T!)

    I don't know who my favorite Jane Austen hero is. I like all of them in different ways. Colonel Brandon does strike me as somewhat boring, but I think that opinion is coming off of the movies. (I don't particularly like him in either of the two versions I've seen.) Interesting what you said about the age difference between him and Marianne. I wonder if it DOES have something to do with the fact that Marianne is still only a teenager.

    Willoughby. Oh my. I like what you had to say about him. I couldn't have said it better myself. You've explained to me why I feel so sorry for him. It's not because I excuse his behavior (at least I hope I don't), or consider it to not be THAT! His behavior is awful! It's terrible. But I feel sorry for him because, like you said, I can see where he could have been redeemed. He has good qualities hidden under all his selfishness and sin, just as we all do. And it all comes down to choices. If he would make the right choices he would find true happiness and even bring happiness to others. But he spurns all that. He walks away from it. He does not value it. He's a painful example of human nature--how we are constantly throwing away our lives for things that do not matter. Choosing death over life, when God told us to choose life. It's sad. It's REALLY sad. (Sorry. I got a little long-winded there...)

    Again, this was a really good review, Natalie. I like what you pointed out about none of the characters being perfect. That's one thing that's really neat about Jane Austen's books. Her characters are REAL. They have struggles and fears and failings. They're definitely characters you can relate to, and that's always a good thing to have in a story. :)

    So which Jane Austen books have you NOT read yet?

    1. Awww, Miss March!! THANK YOU! I am so happy that you liked it that much! It means a lot. :)

      I hope you find one, too! As I said, Elinor isn't a perfect match, but she's definitely the closest match to me that I've ever read about! :) I know!! Haha, I'm so glad you feel the same. I understand why Elinor didn't tell her mother-I think she was closer to Marianne than her mother- but I certainly could never keep that secret.

      It's hard for me to pick my favorite Austen hero, too. Mr. Darcy, Henry Tilney, and Mr. Knightley are the top three, though. :) I know what you mean about the movie versions. I like them both a lot, but they're just not my absolutely favorites. Maybe if I had read the book first I would have loved Colonel Brandon more!

      You know, it's funny that you say that (about what I said explaining to you why you pity him) because I feel like writing this all down for my review helped ME see why I pity him!! I had never dove very deeply into it before, but as I wrote it all just kind of came together for me. I too hoped it wasn't because of any excuses I made for him or such...I also hoped it wasn't because I find the 1995 Willoughby rather handsome. ;) But no, I realize that I feel slightly sorry for even the creepy Willoughby of the 2008. And of course, I feel the sorriest for the book Willoughby.

      Ohh, I LOVE what you said!! About the good qualities hidden under bad...the choices he our human nature makes us throw away our lives for things that don't matter-all of it. I agree 100%. I absolutely love how you worded it all!!

      Yes, aren't they! I think on the surface (especially for someone who's never read Jane Austen) her stories and characters can come off as light and happy but there's soooo much depth to them. I realize that the more and more I read her books. :)

      The only one I have not yet read is Persuasion! :D

      Thank you so much for your long comment! It made me very happy!!

    2. Just have to say. If I was narrowing it down to my FAVORITE Austen heroes, the three you mentioned would be on the top of the list for me, too. :) Those three are just...ahhh! SO good.

      Aww. THANK YOU for your long response. It made me very happy likewise. :D

    3. Aww, yay! We have the same favorites! :D They are simply wonderful. I feel a "top 3 Austen heroes" post should go on my "to-blog" list. ;)

      Heehee, you are so very welcome! I love our conversations. :)

  5. This is a really lovely review. I agree with your remarks on Edward, except that I would say his integrity with Lucy actually makes him my favorite Austen hero. And I agree with your remarks on fully-fleshed villains, and the travesty in cutting that scene! It shows him to be the tragic person lost by a pursuit of money! He could have loved her and been loved, and he made the wrong choice. I feel like ultimately Marianne settles too? But she had to settle? She didn't have the choice. Anyway, that's my working reading, but I'll definitely reread and often have a completely different opinion every time I revisit Austen. :) ELINOR IS EXCELLENT.

    1. Thank you so much, Jillian!!
      Yes, exactly. He certainly could have been a good man if he had only made better choices. :( I don't think Marianne settles-I believe she really did find a true kindred spirit in Colonel Brandon-more so than in Willoughby, because he obviously valued money and worldly comfort over love. But, I do think that their romance was wrapped up rather quickly in the story, so I can see where that might give the impression that she settled for less than her ideal. But I honestly don't think she did. :)
      I know what you mean! Opinions can change so much on re-reads. I love diving deeper into the stories with each re-read. :)
      So glad you agree! :D

  6. Come ON, spellcheck. I mean, really? Hasn't he ever heard of this novel?!! My spellcheck is terribly annoying too . . .

    Anyway, great review, Natalie! I relate to Elinor a lot myself. And Colonel Brandon - what, you don't think he and Marianne go together?!! I think they would be wonderful. And certainly, he would be much more devoted to her than Willoughby!

    My favorite scene, of, like, the WHOLE BOOK, is where Marianne breaks down after defending Elinor's art to Mrs. Ferrars . . . you remember that part? Well, they don't include this in either movie but here's the book excerpt:

    'She could say no more; her spirits were quite overcome, and hiding her face on Elinor's shoulder, she burst into tears. - Everbody's attention was called, and almost everybody was concerned. - Colonel Brandon rose up and went to them without knowing what he did. - Mrs. Jennings, with a very intelligent "Ah! poor dear," immediately gave her, her salts; and Sir John felt so desperately enraged against the author of this nervous distress, that he instantly changed his seat to one close by Lucy Steele, and gave her, in a whisper, a brief account of the whole shocking affair.'

    I just think he's really sweet :)

    1. Rosie,
      Hahaha! I know, right? How can he have not heard of Austen's famous characters?

      Aww, thank you so much!! You relate to her, too? That's so cool!

      Oh no, I think you misunderstood me a little. It's not I think they don't go together-I think they fit very well. They're just not one of my very favorite couples, that's all. :) And oh yes, definitely. I know Colonel Brandon would always stay true to Marianne. I think Willoughby could have loved Marianne if he had been a different sort of man, but knowing how he truly is, of course I couldn't see him with her.

      Awww!! I remember that scene, except I didn't recall Colonel Brandon's part in it. That is so adorable! Thank you for sharing it. :)

  7. I LOVED THIS! ALL OF IT!!! I really like Sense and Sensibility. It was the second Austen that I ever read and I loved reading all of your thoughts.

    I flip flop between Marianne and Elinor, haha. While I understand Marianne, maybe even relate to her, I always get Elinor when I do those online personality quizzes. Strange right?

    Dan Stevens...happiness! I still remember the first time I watched the '08 version, my jaw literally dropped. It was pretty funny.

    I have just one thing to say and it's about Col. Brandon and Marianne. I know about the youth moment that makes you uneasyish about them. I mean Emma and Knightly are 16 years apart but that has never been a problem for me because Emma is older. But I would like to mention, I remember doing the math once and I believe that when Marianne and Brandon were finally married she was either 20 or 21. SO yes, it started very young and that is difficult to overlook, but in case it gives you some peace of mind... :D Now you know.

    I really liked how you drew out the theme of forgiveness in S&S. You made some very beautiful points!

    This was delightful, Natalie!!

    1. Thank you, Cordy!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! :D

      Heehee, that IS funny. Personality quizzes can be so inaccurate at times, though. My brother and haven taken some that have us turn out as the same character or type-but we're two vastly different personalities. :P

      I can well imagine that happening! Although, I would have loved to see that. ;) haha

      Exactly! I'm glad you can understand my feelings. But oh!! She was 20 or 21? That DOES make it so much better. It certainly helps me out. Thank you so much for sharing that with me!

      Aww, thank you! I'm so happy you liked everything!

  8. Wonderful review, Natalie! I haven't yet read this book, but based on this, I ought to ;) I love the pictures you included and all the points you made. Great job!

    1. Thanks so much, Olivia! Yes, you certainly ought. ;) I'll look forward to hearing your own thoughts one day!

  9. Lovely, lovely job, m'dear!! It seems like I always forget just how beautiful S&S is and then I see it again, etc. and remember all over... :)

    Btw, I'm thinking Edward does give Lucy the opportunity to end the engagement if she wanted to... Your page numbers are probably different, but in his long after-engagement-conversation with Elinor he says, "I thought it my duty... independent of my feelings, to give her the option of continuing the engagement or not, when I was renounced by my mother, and stood to all appearance without a friend in the world to assist me. In such a situation as that, where there seemed nothing to tempt the avarice or the vanity of any living creature, how could I suppose, when she so earnestly, so warmly insisted on sharing my fate, whatever it might be, that any thing but the most disinterested affection was her inducement?"

    And about Willoughby's last scene with Elinor. OH MY YOU MUST WATCH THE BBC 1981 MINI-SERIES SOMETIME! It ain't perfect in all respects, but THAT SCENE. I'm almost always nearly in tears. :P

    1. Thank you so much, Heidi! :D

      Ohh...he does! Thank you for pointing that out! Although, he does say that he only offered to let her end the engagement because he had no fortune anymore. He never tells her that he no longer loves her. But, I suppose Edward couldn't bear to hut her like that, especially if she claimed to love him enough to marry him when he's poor. I guess his kind, honorable side won out there! That does make it appreciate him more. :)

      I think I started that series once with my mom, but we didn't finish it. I'll have to get it again sometime, if only for Willoughby's scene! :) Thank you for telling me!


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