Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility #Giveaway

sense and sensibilityI love Joanna Trollope’s books. She’s insightful and accurate in her views of modern family life, and writes enjoyable stories filled with realistic characters. So I was intrigued when I saw she’d written a new version of Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility. Apparently this is part of something called the Austen Project, in which 6 modern authors each retell one of Austen’s novels.

Sense & Sensibility retains Austen’s basic plot but sets it in modern times, with a few tweaks for clarity. For example, it’s not that the estate is entailed to John Dashwood as the only male heir, but rather that Henry and Belle never formally married, making their 3 daughters illegitimate. That works! And it’s rather wonderful to see Belle as a sort of aging hippy, irresponsible but good-hearted, flaky about money but wanting only the best for her beloved girls. True to the original, Elinor and Marianne are beautiful but somewhat clueless in affairs of the heart. Cast out by their sister-in-law Fanny, who is doing up Norland in all the latest environmentally-friendly and expensive ways possible, the 3 sisters end up cast onto the kindness of other relatives.

These characters have nicknames–M, and Wills, Ed and Bill and “Mags.” They listen to iPods and scandals are spread via You Tube and social media. Of course everyone’s on Facebook. Horses have been replaced by Range Rovers and cars in general. Some things don’t work in the modern age. Even thought there’s a tremendous scene where Elinor bangs downs her knife and fork says, angrily, “Ma! This isn’t 1810! Money doesn’t dictate relationships” (p 137), the girls nonetheless do act sometimes rather more helpless than modern women would. Marianne suffers from debilitating asthma attacks (which is what killed her father in this rendition) in this age where a cold and broken heart aren’t enough to hospitalize someone, but she is often infuriating, sitting around moping instead of just going out and getting a job. The main weakness in the adaptation lies in how many options are available to women nowadays that simply weren’t there for women in Austen’s era. However, Marianne’s character grates on me in Austen’s version too.

Sense & Sensibility is getting mixed reviews but I have to admit I enjoyed it. While I like Jane Austen, I found this new version accessible and enjoyable. Trollope writes with her characteristic wit and wry humour, and brings fresh eyes to the trials, woes, and eventual marital triumphs of the Dashwood sisters.

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Comments

  1. says

    I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and have been ever since I read Pride and Prejudice in a high school English class. Pride and Prejudice remains one of my favorite books to this day.

  2. Adele Jones says

    I read Pride and Prejudice a very long time ago for school. I did enjoy it even though it was required reading.

  3. Karen Lynch says

    I love all of Jane Austen’s books with the exception of her mystery one which escapes me right now. Pride and Prejudice being number one.

  4. says

    This looks intriguing. If I remember, Sense and Sensibility was Austen’s first novel? I remember reading it and thinking that Austen was clearly warming up to write Pride and Prejudice.

    The movie with Emma Thompson is fabulous, too — I think it’s the best of all the adaptations.

  5. says

    I have listened to one or two audio books and seen the films. Love rich characterization. My daughter-in-law is reading through a volume of seven Austen books, most of them a re-read for her. i would love to know what she thinks of this rewrite and I would love to listen to the audio version, or buy the Kindle version (after I get a Kindle for Christmas 😉

  6. Julie Smith says

    I am mixed about Jane Austen – while I love Pride and Prejudice, I really really really didn’t like Emma! Thanks for the chance to win!

  7. Danielle Jones says

    I shock everyone who knows me when I say that I’ve never read any of her books. I love to read but some how never read Pride and Prejudice.

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