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Sense and Sensibility – JoannaTrollope

Sense and Sensibility - Joanna Trollope

Sense and Sensibility – Joanna Trollope

This is the first of the Austen Project novels.

Here is the blurb …

From one of the most insightful chroniclers of family life working in fiction today comes a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel of love, money, and two very different sisters

John Dashwood promised his dying father that he would take care of his half sisters. But his wife, Fanny, has no desire to share their newly inherited estate with Belle Dashwood’s daughters. When she descends upon Norland Park with her Romanian nanny and her mood boards, the three Dashwood girls-Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret-are suddenly faced with the cruelties of life without their father, their home, or their money.

As they come to terms with life without the status of their country house, the protection of the family name, or the comfort of an inheritance, Elinor and Marianne are confronted by the cold hard reality of a world where people’s attitudes can change as drastically as their circumstances.

With her sparkling wit, Joanna Trollope casts a clever, satirical eye on the tales of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Reimagining Sense and Sensibility in a fresh, modern new light, she spins the novel’s romance, bonnets, and betrothals into a wonderfully witty coming-of-age story about the stuff that really makes the the world go around. For when it comes to money, some things never change.

This is a very faithful modernisation of the novel. All of the big events are present – losing Norland, moving to Devonshire, meeting Willoughby (who seems to be some sort of high end estate agent), Marianne almost dying (in this version she has asthma). What I have realised is how tricky it is to modernise Austen. Sex before marriage is completely acceptable, so for Willoughby to be  a cad he had to do something else and that something was drugs.

The characters are similar to Austen – Elinor (stoic and self – sacrificing), Marianne (still a drama queen). Edward (as wishy washy as ever), Fanny (more obviously mean in this one or perhaps just less polite),etc. Margaret is more fleshed out – quite the surly teenager. Bel (the mother – we can’t call her Mrs Dashwood because they weren’t married) is not how I think of Austen’s Mrs Dashwood. This one seems scatty and self-centred.

The flaw in trying to modernise Austen is the helpless women. Women are not helpless now days, so Bel should stop being flighty and go and get a job to support her children.

While I have been reading this I have been reading Sense and Sensibility to my daughters and I have enjoyed the comparison. It follows the plot, doesn’t add any characters or remove any plus there is a chance Marianne might escape Colonel Brandon! There is a hint of future romance, but they don’t end the novel married.

I can’t say this novel will appeal to all Austen fans, but I am glad that I read it and I shall read the next Austen Project installment, which I think is Northanger Abbey.

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Sense and Sensibility – Colonel Brandon

I’m still listening to Sense and Sensibility. Despite Colonel Brandon being a true gentleman, I can not reconcile myself to Marianne marrying him.

Here is the relevant bit in the novel …

 Elinor’s marriage divided her as little from her family as could well be contrived, without rendering the cottage at Barton entirely useless, for her mother and sisters spent much more than half their time with her. Mrs. Dashwood was acting on motives of policy as well as pleasure in the frequency of her visits at Delaford; for her wish of bringing Marianne and Colonel Brandon together was hardly less earnest, though rather more liberal than what John had expressed. It was now her darling object. Precious as was the company of her daughter to her, she desired nothing so much as to give up its constant enjoyment to her valued friend; and to see Marianne settled at the Mansion-house was equally the wish of Edward and Elinor. They each felt his sorrows and their own obligations, and Marianne, by general consent, was to be the reward of all.

With such a confederacy against her — with a knowledge so intimate of his goodness — with a conviction of his fond attachment to herself, which at last, though long after it was observable to everybody else, burst on her — what could she do?

Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another! — and that other, a man who had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment, — whom, two years before, she had considered too old to be married, — and who still sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!

But so it was. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting, — instead of remaining even for ever with her mother, and finding her only pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her more calm and sober judgment she had determined on, — she found herself, at nineteen, submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties, placed in a new home, a wife, the mistress of a family, and the patroness of a village.

Colonel Brandon was now as happy as all those who best loved him believed he deserved to be; — in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction; — her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.

I’m not convinced. With no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntary to give her hand to another!

There is this final statement Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby, so I know they will be happy, but I can’t understand Marianne marrying him in the first place.

Any thoughts?

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Sense and Sensibility – Mr Willoughby

Austen definitely had a soft spot for Mr Willoughby – we almost feel sorry for him at the end. Despite seducing Eliza, abandoning Marianne and marrying Miss Grey for her money.

Here is the end of the final meeting of Elinor and Mr Willoughby

  He held out his hand. She could not refuse to give him hers; he pressed it with affection.

“And you do think something better of me than you did?” said he, letting it fall, and leaning against the mantlepiece, as if forgetting he was to go.

Elinor assured him that she did; that she forgave, pitied, wished him well — was even interested in his happiness — and added some gentle counsel as to the behaviour most likely to promote it.

Come to think of it, we feel sympathy for Henry Crawford too.

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