Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

I recently read Sense and Sensibility  for the very first time. (If I have read it, it was over 20 years ago before I started keeping a book log). I have enjoyed the Emma Thompson movie version on several occasions and thought I knew the story pretty well. The book, however, added new dimension to the characters. (Obviously movies are limited in that area.) Marianne’s imprudence was much more understandable when we discover in the opening chapters that she is only 15 years old! I also found Willoughby's lengthy apology to Elinor (not in the movie) quite interesting.

The loving (and sometime anguished) thoughts expressed by Elinor in the book make her a much more admirable and loveable character than the film version is able to do. What struck me the most from the book was the sacrificial love of both Elinor and Colonel Brandon. Although thwarted (initially) in becoming attached to their love interests, they continued to genuinely wish the best for the other parties. Instead of wallowing in vindictiveness or self-pity, they did all in their power to ease the burdens of others.

It reminded me of a movie I saw several years ago called Pot O' Gold with Jimmy Stewart and Paulette Goddard. (If you can ignore the movie’s negative depiction of African Americans it is a sweet love story.) Even when the two lovers quarrel they are extremely civil (not in the sense of coldly polite, but in the sense of never lashing out to hurt the other.) What a huge contrast to the film Hitch  that I saw shortly afterwards! I hated the evil things that those two angry lovers did to each other out of their hurt. How they ever got back together again, I’ll never know. When the going got rough their true characters came through and there was nothing admirable in them. Elinor and Colonel Brandon, on the other hand, were tested and “came forth as gold”. I highly recommend Sense and Sensibility as a case study on true love – both the romantic and friendship kinds.


Anonymous said...

Hi Hope, sorry I've been MIA in our correspondence! I really like your insights to this novel. So true--much of what we see on TV and even other books is a sort of vengeful romance. But in this novel, I love the characters of Elinor and Brandon especially for their giving personalities, even in the face of frustration and failure. You've made me want to read the book again--although if I remember correctly, the ending was somewhat rushed and unsatisfactory for me.

Anonymous said...

Hope, your review is one in a string of mentions that makes me ready to revisit S & S, which I didn't much like the first time I read it. I thought the recent PBS movie was decent and liked the actor who played Colonel Brandon, and was creeped out by Willoughby.