"The dinner was a grand one, the servants were numerous, and every thing bespoke the Mistress’s inclination for show, and the Master’s ability to support it. In spite of the improvements and additions which they were making to the Norland estate, and in spite of its owner having once been within some thousand pounds of being obliged to sell out at a loss, nothing gave any symptom of that indigence which he had tried to infer from it;—no poverty of any kind, except of conversation, appeared—but there, the deficiency was considerable".
I have read Pride and Prejudice twice in my life and loved the novel both times and when I get around to reading it again I know I will be just as enthralled. That said, in recent years I have also read Jane Austen's Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. I was underwhelmed and so I approached Sense and Sensibility with trepidation.
But I am pleased to say I really enjoyed this book. The writing as always with Jane Austen is excellent and there was humor and the relationship between the two sisters at the center of this novel for me was the highlight of the book. Elinor Dashwood representing rationality, decorum and common sense and her younger sister Marianne Dashwood representing heart on her sleeve romantic feeling was a nice contrast.
And I think Austen was making a point in Sense and Sensibility that in matters of the heart common sense and decorum are important but the courage to express one's emotions, what one is really feeling, is also needed, maybe not to the extent that Marianne does it but keeping everything bottled up as Elinor does throughout most of the book can have its drawbacks as well.
Of course this is Jane Austen so I don't think I am giving away much of the plot when I say that it all ends happily. And though a part of me wishes that Austen would have taken more risks in her books, I must remember the era in which she lived, the early 19th century. Jane Austen died in 1817 and never lived to see the arrival of railroad travel or the industrialization age. What she knew was the world of the landed gentry in Britain and the families just a rung or two below. As Austen once wrote to her niece: "Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on".
Sense and Sensibility (2011) is my choice for the 2022 Back to the Classics category -choose a classic by a woman author