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.