Well, I’ve finished reading Sense and Sensibility – it’s been an interesting read this one. As I mentioned at the end of my last post I hadn’t read Sense and Sensibility since I was a teenager and back then I wasn’t especially keen on the book. Confusingly, over ten years later, I still find myself sitting on the fence with regards to this book. While I most definitely enjoyed reading it more this time around, I can’t say that it’s ever going to be a book I love. It seems to me that Sense and Sensibility is something of a solid, middle-of-the-road kind of classic novel. It’s well written and plotted and its characters are well-developed, and yet, for me, there is still something a little lacking. There is far less humour to be found in Sense and Sensibility compared to some of Austen’s other works and her satirisation of characters is not as cleverly done as in some of her other writing.
I read the book rather quickly and enjoyed Austen’s plot lines immensely. The relationship between sisters Elinor and Marianne is thoughtfully written and one of the novel’s greatest successes. I must confide that I did find Marianne a little trying at times, but then I think that this was probably Austen’s intention – especially when contrasting her behaviour to that of her more mature sister.
One criticism which I do have to level at this novel is regarding its male characters. I must confess that I found every one of the men in this book rather uninspiring and dull (I realise this statement makes me sound rather like Marianne). Even the gentlemanly Edward Ferrars seemed to be something of a cold fish to me, a rather flat and uninteresting man. Colonel Brandon, I own, is a little more interesting, but even he failed to engage me. It’s not that I always expect Austen to come up trumps with a Captain Wentworth or Mr Darcy, but rather that I thought the male characters in this novel needed much more ‘fleshing out’ – we simply don’t spend enough time observing them and do not get to hear enough speech from their lips.
As I’ve touched upon already, I think Austen’s plotting of this novel is praiseworthy and (had I not read the book before and seen numerous screen adaptations), I don’t think I would have seen many of the story lines coming. There are also a good variety of characters and temperaments to be met with – I especially enjoyed the relationship between the somewhat pompous Sir John and his mother-in-law Mrs Jennings.