Once I’d been introduced to Jane Austen, it was all over for me. My Harlequin romances were no match for the build-up of longing and the working out of balance between passion and reasoning that Austen was a master of describing.
Sense and Sensibility was my favorite Austen novel.
Oh, the drama!
And I loved every word of it. Her books also allowed me to see the seedier side of human nature for what we can so easily be. The nasty words-whispered-in-secret-and-meant-to-hurt, nature. The looking-down-upon-one-another, nature. It stung to read myself in those situations.
In Sense and Sensibility, though, it was Elinor’s plight that touched me most deeply. Not only as the one with the most sense, but also as the one carrying the most responsibility. She was a whiz at concealing her feelings, too, and I surely know how to do that.
Marianne’s inner warrings, on the other hand, also affected me. She was constantly delighted by the possibilities of life and I can relate. She was also a master of letting it all hang out – every blasted thought and feeling. I do that and I do it well.
Progress, not perfection. Amen?
It was, though, a line by Mrs. John Dashwood (vile woman) that stuck with me and proved to be a sad truth of human nature. A truth I’ve watched borne out by friends and family alike, not to mention myself.
“…for when people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of anything better from them.”
As full of sunshine and unicorns as I can be, at heart, I’m pragmatic. Life has taught me that hope is vital, but realistic expectations help to keep hope from being crushed, altogether.
I picked this book up again, over the summer, in 3 different modern versions: The Three Weissmanns of Westport (by Cathleen Schine), Sense & Sensibility: A Novel (by Joanna Trollope), and Sass and Serendipity (by Jennifer Ziegler).
Here’s what I learned. No one holds a candle to Jane Austen’s ability to use plain language to express elaborate thoughts. Period.
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