19 July 2013

Jane Austen Book Club: Sense and Sensibility

One of the expat bloggers I read suggested a few months via Twitter to doing a blogger book club for Jane Austen. I was immediately invested as I have been meaning to read all of Jane Austen's novels. It's embarrassing to admit as an English Lit degree holder, I have only ever read one Jane Austen, Emma. I knew I'd be a big fan just from that one book, so I signed on to do the book club as well.

I present to you, The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club. The reading schedule is as follows, in order of when published:
  • June - Sense and Sensibility (1811)
  • July - Pride and Prejudice (1813)
  • August - Mansfield Park (1814)
  • September - Emma (1815)
  • October - Northanger Abbey (1818)
  • November - Persuasion (1818)
I finished Sense and Sensibility at the end of June and have already finished Pride and Prejudice as well. I'll try to keep my little reviews of both separate, but know that'll be quite hard for me. I've got too much comparison going on in my head of both. I very much enjoyed Sense and Sensibility but than I read P&P and couldn't put it down

Now I'm not one for a recap, so check out SparkNotes or Google it if you haven't read it. Cheaters can just go straight to the phenomenal movie written by Emma Thompson, staring her and Kate Winslet. Going down as one of my favorite movies ever AND has just all the very best British actors in it. Couldn't believe it. It's the most well cast movie based on a book. Read the book first and you'll see. 

Sense and Sensibility definitely had the feel of a chick lit on the first go of it. I love the manners that instruct British society in this time period. There are rules of conduct and how one should behave. So of course I loved all the rule breakers. Marianne was the one I most identified with because of her grand emotion about everything, except I wish I was more like Elinor. This is one of those things that feel quite black and white to me when reading. There's a clear choice of who you should want to be like. That's how I feel when I watch Sex & The City. Everyone wants to be just like Carrie, or find a bit of themselves in her, but most of the time we're like one of the other girls who are put into a very extreme type cast. (I'm definitely Charlotte and a bit of Miranda...also, after watching that show back-to-back...I freaking hated Carrie. They try quite hard to make her like "every woman".)

I think that the book could be a bit over dramatic at times and just seemed...like her first novel, as if she was finding her feet in the genre. A lot of the smaller characters were quite one-dimensional, like the Palmers, Mrs. Dashwood, Fanny and John. I think the movie actually made everyone a lot more nuanced than the book. And I was never aware of Margaret Dashwood at all in the book, but she played a good part in the coming together of Elinor and Edward Ferrars in the movie.

Some of the choices in the movie I was on board with quite a lot. There was no Lady Middleton and I do believe her children in the book were replaced by dogs in the movie. LOVED that choice as I feel she was a nothing kind of character. What really was her purpose other than to show how completely different her husband was in comparison to her? I also enjoyed the fact that there was no forced hinting of emotion between Marianne and Colonel Brandon in the movie. A lot of movies like to create that emotion before it's time and in the book Marianne doesn't feel anything for Colonel Brandon till the end. 

I was disappointed that in the movie there was no Anne Steele. One of my favorite parts of the book (and the movie) was the relationship between the sisters, Elinor and Marianne. You feel that love and that trust. It reminded me a lot of my relationship with my sister. Though my younger sister is more rational and mature than I, much more the Elinor to my Marianne. I enjoyed, in the book, the great contrast of their relationship against that of Lucy Steele and Anne Steele's relationship. It just showed much more strength in Elinor and Marianne's. 

My last comment of note between the book and the movie is that in the movie I very much appreciated that it showed Elinor suffering in silence over Lucy's engagement to Edward. You feel her pain. In the book, it's still very much a time of politeness and I didn't get such an intense feeling from the book because you just see Elinor playing by society's rules. She is upset, but she reigns in her emotions, she is very controlled...unlike her sister Marianne, who is makes herself sick over lost love.

It was so lovely to read the book and then watch the movie. I think it really helped me to fall in love with Austen's story a bit more than if I had just read the book.

Of course, then I read Pride and Prejudice and how can you not love that story? I'm not sure we can be friends if you didn't like that book. But I want to wait until after I get back from my trip to California this weekend for my Napa half marathon before I write about July's book. 

Can I just say that I tried to go from Jane Austen to Stephen King and have been attempting to read Under the Dome, worst idea ever. Definitely not good for a delicate psyche, let me tell you. He is a really good writer and even the simplest scenes of a bird dying are completely devastating and horrific to me. Give me a world of manners and elegance any day. Can't wait to start on Mansfield Park!

Have you read any Jane Austen? I would love to hear favorites, and opinions on Sense and Sensibility!


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