And so to Sense & Sensibility. What can be said? That has not already been said a thousand times?
It was a good book on which to end my revisiting of Austen's novels. It is somehow so familiar, so endearing.
There is the steady Elinor to take us through. The long-suffering, stoic Elinor. So put-upon, so faithful. There is so much to admire in this respectful, diligent young lady. And yet few would admire her alongside the prettier, livelier Marianne.
She is abused by so many: a mother most puerile in her wants and actions; a sister almost indifferent to the world around her; the Jennings, the Ferrars; her brother, her lover, her lover's lover. And often the reader.
But I think we can all only rejoice at the vision of her happiness and emotional fulfilment at the close of the curtains.
This is a story we love to see on the screen. And although generally faithful, I often wonder at the need to embellish an already richly dramatic tale. Love and loss. Money and poverty. The intricacies and snobberies of class and social standing. Marianne's hysteria; Lucy's uncouthness. Willoughby's selfishness; the Jennings' crassness; the Dashwood's pomposity. Elinor and Colonel Brandon's selflessness. What more could you possibly ask for?
And so, that's all the Austen novels done. This time round. Read but not forgotten. There is a reason Jane Austen is hailed as one of the great novelists and held in such high esteem. And it's not just the tales she tells. Her inimitable way of seeing the world leaves a mark. Her quirky study of human nature. The beauty of her word use and composition. It all marks and stays with you like a warm mug of hot chocolate on an icy cold day. It is truly delightful and the ultimate feeling you would hope to get from the best hours of reading.
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