Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Age Rating: Young Adult
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Originally published without any indication of the author – simply ‘By a Lady’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is a story of downfalls, love, heartbreak and relationships. It is an emotional story: absolutely full of joy and humour at times, and at others, the reader feels the same bitter pain and misery as the characters experience. But despite this, an excellent story which comes with many important and thoughtful morals and lessons that the novel demonstrates, based around the Dashwood family (especially sisters: Marianne and Elinor). The story begins to emerge when Mr Dashwood: the sisters’ father dies and the family-house is left to the Dashwood’s only son – John. Though John is a selfless and kindly character, his wife – Fanny takes advantage of the situation, and claims the property at once and so Mrs Dashwood, Marianne, Elinor and Margaret have to decide on a place elsewhere to go and live. Meanwhile Elinor and Edward Ferrars (Fanny’s brother), having become quite close, are worried about Fanny’s spiteful speculations of Elinor being motivated by money, not love. And so the relationship is kept quiet, and when at last the Dashwood’s found a place of their own: Barton Cottage in Devonshire, nobody is aware of the bitter pain that Elinor feels during the move. Would she ever see Edward again?
The family soon settle in at Barton Cottage: welcomed heartily by Sir John Middleton, a neighbour and acquaintance. It becomes apparent, in the neighbourly gatherings, that Colonel Brandon (the Middleton’s good friend) is rather fond of Marianne. Despite the Colonel’s pleasant attitude and personality, Marianne is rather disapproving of the whole thing. She thinks that the Colonel (at 35!) is much too old for her! It is only when Marianne is out for a walk one day that she (seemingly) meets her true love, who comes to her assistance when Marianne falls over. John Willoughby is perfect in every way: caring, kindly, trustworthy and reasonable and so Marianne is described to be the happiest she’d been in years. But then, when Willoughby is called away to attend to business in London, Marianne is distraught. Her emotions are very clear, unlike only a few weeks previously, when Elinor experienced the same heartbreak, but kept it to herself.
The story goes on to describe Edward Ferrars’ short visit to Barton Cottage. He appears, rather unlike himself, however and so Elinor fears that he does not love her any more and feels awkward to be around her, having been so close, not so long ago. We see Edward depart and Elinor’s familiar private fears creep over her again. But the Dashwood’s minds are soon drawn towards an arrival at Sir John’s house. The arrival of Anne and Lucy Steele, two uneducated, giggly cousins of Lady Middleton. It is during their stay that another massive downfall is forced upon Elinor. The four-year long secret engagement of Lucy Steele and Edward Ferrars.
Mrs Jennings: Lady Middleton’s mother, who is loud, brash and outspoken, offers to take Marianne and Elinor to London, as Winter begins to emerge. Elinor is unsure about the trip, but Marianne is thrilled, foolishly speculating that she’d be sure to see Willoughby. And so, though Elinor is still unsure, they agree to go, resulting in the sister’s revealing, for themselves, the answers to their issues.