Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
Audiobook read by Nadia May
I love Jane Austen. She is one of the few classic authors that I have given a 5-star rating. Pride & Prejudice is one of my all-time favourite classics; I have read it multiple times and I have seen all the movie and television adaptations. I absolutely love it. So I was quite excited to finally read Sense & Sensibility. 1) I was excited to jump back into anything Austen; and 2) It was going to be my first audio book. Sadly, it was not as good as what I had read previously.
The similarities between the two are quite startling. Two sisters are of a lower income station and move into a cottage with their mother. They are older than most who have already been married, and the goal, in order to provide for them, is to find them good husbands. Elinor and Maryanne have very strong presumptions regarding the type of men they are looking for and how love works. It almost stunts them in their ability to find a true match as these beliefs are used as types of prejudices (i.e. Comparison to Pride & Prejudice). Maryanne is almost juvenile in her views of love, seeing it as a grand adventure and will only happen once in her lifetime. Elinor is a little more jaded and careful regarding her emotions. Of course, they attract the attention of a few men of ranging personalities and status levels. Elinor attracts the attention of Edward Ferris, and Maryanne attracts the attention of two men: Willoughby and Colonel Brandon. Of these two, Colonel Brandon is the nicest and a perfect example of a true gentleman. Unfortunately, he is treated terribly throughout most of the novel and despite that, continues to hold his affections for Maryanne. He remains, probably my only liked character in this novel.
The rest of the men are different levels of despicable with wavering levels of affection for the two sisters. They propose; they change their minds; they get proposed to others; they come back and apologize; they treat others terribly (think Darcy and Wickham). In fact, one of the men’s apologies was about 15 minutes on the audiobook. In the end, Elinor gives him a partial forgiveness, one of which I believe he does not deserve. In fact, I would have cut him off after two minutes. The sisters are quite forgiving for the slights against them. They are embarrassed publicly by these men and they have their hearts trampled on. It was very hard to read.
The book is simply listening to many characters spread gossip and ridicule other characters. The ending was quick and meh. It was almost like the sisters had given up on love and simply ‘settled.’ The fact that they settled on the particular male characters that they did, further ridicules them in the novel because they are viewed as such. The men are viewed as second best or whatever was left in the pot of available bachelors. And while this certainly does occur in real-life and probably did in Austen’s time, I think particular characters, specifically Colonel Brandon, should have been treated better and with more respect. He was the ideal husband and he was treated as the lowest of the low.
I like Austen, I truly do, and I give this novel 3 stars simply because of her writing style and the particular characters that carried the novel. I actually wish Colonel Brandon was in Pride & Prejudice. He is on par with my love for Mr. Darcy. Austen’s talent with writing cannot be questioned, but her storyline was simply lacking in this case. Looking into publication dates, Sense & Sensibility being her first novel published is quite a show of her talent. She had the idea behind that story, and did a wonderful job in trying to convey it. Two years later, her novel Pride & Prejudice was published, in which I feel that she perfected the story.
Audiobook wise, it was quite good. Read by Nadia May, she had the perfect tone and style to add to the story. She did subtle changes in her voice for each character and it wasn’t so over the top that her reading distracted you from the storyline. Her pace was perfect; not too fast, not too slow. I quite enjoyed the ability to be able to complete household tasks (i.e. cleaning and yard work and cuddling with the puppy) while listening to a book.