Welcome to part I of the Advent with Austen Sense & Sensibility Readalong! If you’re new to Advent with Austen and want to read more/sign up to be part of the fun, read this post; if you want the schedule for Sense & Sensibility, read this post!
Part I was a fairly undemanding little chunk, 9 chapters of a 50-chapter book; I covered it in two commutes.
I had forgotten just how beautiful and sharp Austen’s writing is. I found myself annotating whole paragraphs, most of which start out as astute social commentary and end with that delightful hint of snarkiness via which Austen pokes a little fun at her landed gentry:
“such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise.”
Like Alex said, as you get older you expect to like Elinor more and Marianne less. While it is easy to feel sorry for Elinor, stuck as the guardian of the family pursestrings, forced by family necessity and her mother’s sensitivities to move to the other side of the country from the man she loves, Marianne doesn’t irritate me as much as I thought she would (and as much as I remembered her irritating me the first time I read S&S). Of course we know that her romantic notions
“He admires as a lover, not as a connoisseur. To satisfy me, those characters must be united.”
will cause her all manner of trouble, but who among us does not have such a friend who wants romance to be all fireworks and swooning lovebirds and not so much about just being together?
And Elinor clearly trusts Marianne and seeks her counsel (as Jane does of Lizzie in P&P), so I will have to try and see Marianne’s side of things too.
As one does, I had more or less forgotten the subsidiary characters. Mrs Dashwood really does irritate me – she’s an older but not wiser edition of Marianne and I find it difficult to believe that a man as wise and gentle as Henry Dashwood is given out to be in the first few chapters would marry someone so fluffy and useless. Margaret – there’s a third sister??? Seriously, I had NO IDEA there was a third sister until I started this re-read. And as for the Ferrars lot (and I include John Dashwood in that group, married as he is to Miss Fanny Ferrars, Instigator of Much Trouble), again I had forgotten all the politicking and “Elinor’s not good enough/rich enough/pretty enough/whatever enough” for Edward and Edward being a bit slow with the demonstrations of affection and all of that. So I am looking forward to more about them later on.
Earlier this week, Litlove posted about Sense & Sensibility and about the Emma Thompson film adaptation, and I cannot wait to watch this on Sunday 18 December (see Alex’s post on the Twitter movie nights)!
Do join in the chat below!