It would be pointless and overweening for me to “review” Sense and Sensibility, a book many of you probably read long ago, and one which has been well appreciated by far more discerning readers than me. So let’s just call this a reader’s report.
I read Pride and Prejudice quite a few years back, and promised myself I’d return to Jane Austen again. The delay of more than a decade is probably best explained by the fact that Austen is a fair amount of work. To take one example of words that have changed in meaning since the early 1800s, in Austen the word “address” means the way you present yourself when conversing with other people. The notation on the outside of a letter, telling the postman where to deliver it, is called the “direction.” I have a pretty good vocabulary and can work my way through, but I’ll admit I had to go over a few of the sentences more than once, not only because of word choice, but because the diction could get pretty convoluted.
But the book rewarded the work. There were a number of very funny lines, delivered in a charming dry manner, scattered among the verbiage. I’d share one or two, but I returned the book to the library this afternoon when I’d finished it.
What particularly delighted me in Sense and Sensibility was the sweet reason of the whole thing. In utter contradiction to what a guy expects in a love story written by a woman, the most sympathetic character is the most circumspect one; a woman whose feelings are so well concealed that I wasn’t sure until the end which male character to root for her to marry. The author, apparently, approves of this. Marriages should be well thought out, and entered into with a due consideration of prudential matters like social class, education, good taste and income. And love, of course, but don’t get carried away.
I totally approve.