Sense and Sensibility
Reviewed on 3rd July 2022
Over 200 years late to the party and I’m finally inspired to try out Jane Austen. I chose Sense & Sensibility primarily because there was already a copy of my bookcase which had appeared for some random relative at some time or another.
My first reaction is that it’s much longer than I had anticipated, some 50 very densely packed chapters, and so reading it took a lot more effort than I had been expecting.
The language is for the most part very formal. Austen’s characters don’t use one word where a page of speech without paragraph breaks would do. The punctuation is wild, breaking up epic sentences which span line after line in tiny three word chunks, leaving very little opportunity to breathe while reading aloud, and often meaning I struggled to follow the flow of the thought being conveyed.
It took me some time to get my head around the characters. The mixture of surnames and forenames to refer to the same people was part of this, plus the duplicity of people with the same title-surname combinations. There were places, especially early on, where I was unable to follow who was speaking. In fact there is one exchange which felt deliberately vague about who was participating.
I often found myself wondering as I read about Elinor and Marianne’s romantic endeavours, what their younger sister Margaret was up to, for she gets barely a mention for most of the narrative. I would recall Richmal Crompton’s William stories, in which the youngest of three siblings would have fantastic adventures while the older two pursued various romances. I like to think that Margaret was having great adventures in the countryside while Austen wasn’t watching.
While it probably was finding out what all the fuss was about, I don’t come away with any intent to spend my time reading Austen’s other novels. This was enough.