Sense & Sensibility

13 November, 2013 Women's Fiction 8

Sense and SensibilityOne of my favorite authors is Jane Austen.  I adore every one of her books.  They take me to a happy place and I could watch the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice (Hello Colin Firth!!!!) any day of the week!  My favorite Austen novel is Sense & Sensibility.  While it’s not as lighthearted a book as it’s predecessors, I love the complexities of the relationships, especially between sisters, that Austen writes about.  Sense & Sensibility breaks my heart every time I read it or watch the Ang Lee movie.  But how would I feel about one of my favorite books being modernized?  This very question is part of a heated debate. The debate is this.  Should Jane Austen books be modernized?  The reason of the debate?  Joanne Trollope has just published a modern version of this time honored classic and all in all I have to say I enjoyed her version.

Trollope has done a good job of updating the 19th century setting to present day, without overstepping the boundaries of the original plot and characters, with a few exceptions.  Some of those exceptions were a hit and others were a miss. Because Trollope chose to place the book in the 21st century, the Dashwood women had access to all the joys of modern technology: cell phones, text messages, Facebook. I was ok with that as it was realistic.  What was more troubling to me was the circumstances around the Dashwood women hadn’t changed and as 21st century women that was a hard pill to swallow.  Trollope tries to make us believe that women have no legal rights at Norland Park and that the women are impoverished gentry.  Not going to lie it was hard to like characters who made little attempt towards their own independence. To remain in their social circle, Austen’s Elinor and Marianne had to marry.  Without a husband, they would have lost their status, rely upon wealthy, charitable relatives, or become a governess.  Today there are more options available to women so it’s pretty awful that the women in this book would claim they aren’t equipped to be useful for anything.

Trollope’s Elinor is studying to be an architect.  When the family is forced out of Norland Park, she must give up her education at the university.  Bill Brandon (an updated Colonel Brandon) helps Elinor get a job at an architect’s firm near Barton Park.  She is getting paid pennies, literally below minimum wage.  And this is where I got annoyed with Elinor, who was one of my favorite characters in the original.  Trollope portrays her as a saint.  Elinor is thrilled that she’s getting paid nothing even when her family is penniless.  I wanted, yearned, for more from Elinor!  I wanted her to stand up to her family and demand something better!  I wanted her to be independent and change things.  She didn’t.

Marianne, like in Austen’s version, gets away with more than her older sister.  She is spoiled and too ‘delicate to work,’ as she suffers from asthma and depression.  When she meets Wills (Willoughby) and begins her passionate relationship with him, it comes as a relief to everyone.  Marianne is only suited to marry a rich man.  Again, hard to identify with…..

Trollope writes a story with a large cast of characters, all of whom assumed their 21st century roles but it just wasn’t believable at times.  There were no huge departures from Austen’s plot or the circumstances surrounding them.  And I wish there was.  I wish Trollope had completely modernized the entire novel, instead of parts of it.  It was like watching the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes version of Romeo & Juliet.  Something was missing. I will applaud Trollope for having the courage to tackle a book, an author, a brand as established as Jane Austen as that was not an easy feat.  Sense & Sensibility, the original, will still remain one of my favorite books.  The remake by Trollope was enjoyable, but left me wanting more.

For more information on Trollope, visit her website.

Sense & Sensibility can be purchased on Amazon or Indiebound.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour.  You’ve read what I think about Sense & Sensibility.  Check out the other stops on this tour to see what my fellow fabulous bloggers have to say:

Tuesday, October 29th: BookNAround
Wednesday, October 30th: Diary of an Eccentric
Thursday, October 31st: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, November 1st: Doing Dewey
Monday, November 4th: Booktalk & More
Tuesday, November 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, November 6th: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, November 7th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 11th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, November 12th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, November 13th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, November 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, November 18th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, November 19th: Alison’s Book Marks
Wednesday, November 20th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, November 25th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, November 26th: A Reader of Fictions
Wednesday, November 27th: guiltless reading
Thursday, November 28th: Excellent Library
Jennifer Smeth

Jennifer Smeth

Owner at Book-alicious Mama
Ever since I can remember I have loved to read. Book-alicious Mama is the realization of that passion to read and recommend incredible books. I hope you enjoy my site -- be sure to connect with me via Google+ and Twitter @bookaliciousmom. I recently launched Be Books Consulting, LLC. a full-service, boutique agency offering premium marketing and publicity services to authors.
Jennifer Smeth
Jennifer Smeth



8 Responses to “Sense & Sensibility”

  1. Jennine G.

    Have you ever read the monster version? Everyone’s heard of Pride&Prejudice and Zombies, but there’s also a Sense&Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Really couldn’t say if it’s any good, but weird!

  2. Rory

    I would have trouble with Elinor, an intelligent woman, earning only pennies. That being said, I like to read the modern updates of classics (even the awful ones).

    (For what it’s worth, Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel.)

  3. Heather J. @ TLC

    It’s always tricky to “mess with” a classic so I’m very happy to see how well this one turned out! Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  4. Melinda

    You will be surprised to hear I haven’t read any Jane Austen books yet, but I know the stories (kind of). I have some Austen on my classics club list though :)

    I’m wary of remakes of books, almost how I feel about movies! I think I need to read Sense & Sensibility by Austen herself.

  5. Wendy @ Wensend

    I’m not really fond of rewritings. There is not one rewrited novel that I thoroughly liked. I haven’t fully read S&S (only parts of it), but I must say I’m not tempted to read this version. Still planning on reading the original soon.

  1. The Pursuit of Mary Bennet | Book-alicious Mama

    […] then you will love this novel by Pamela Mingle.  Unlike Trollope’s modernization of Sense and Sensibility, Mingle hits the mark.  The Pursuit picks up right where Austen ends her other novel and it takes […]

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