Stephen's Reviews > Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
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Jul 09, 11

bookshelves: audiobook, classics, easton-press, literature, 1800s, romantical, love-those-words, classics-european
Read from July 04 to 07, 2011

I love Jane Austen.
I LOVE Jane Austen.
I LOVE JANE AUSTEN!!
I…LOVE…JANE…AUSTEN!!
I……LOVE…..JANE..…AUSTEN!!

I still twitch a bit, but I'm getting more and more man-comfortable saying that because there no denying that it’s true. Normally, I am not much of a soapy, chick-flick, mani-pedi kinda guy. I don’t spritz my wine, rarely eat quiche and have never had anything waxed (though the list of things that need it grows by the hour).

But I would walk across a desert in bloomers and a parasol to read Ms. Austen. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books and Sense and Sensibility is certainly up among the elite. Jane can absolutely bust me when she starts penning that snappy prose laced with all those sly, subtle, sarcastic phrases. She’s like prim and proper meets saucy and bossy.

I find it interesting that the "descriptions" of her books never seem very appealing to me before I begin them (I would direct your attention to the non chick-flick portion of my “I’m a Man Intro” above). For example, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, one emotionally reserved (to put it mildly) and proper and the other emotionally volatile and prone to disregard convention, as they struggle with life and relationships following the death of their father. Doesn’t it sound kinda Hallmark Networky? While I can appreciate that stuff, it doesn’t generally produce boat float with me.

However, the quality of the writing and the nuanced sassiness of the dialogue just warms my cockles and makes me prone to bouts of squealing. Her characterization, primarily the two sisters, but true for the rest of the cast as well, is so impeccably done that I keep expecting one of them to tap me on the shoulder as I’m reading…..don’t worry, none of them have yet but I’m still hoping.

Probably the most appealing aspect of Jane’s novels is the need for her intelligent, strong-willed female characters to move through the emotionally stifling requirements of “Victorian” society. So much of the charm of Jane’s writing revolves around the characters being forced to find an “acceptable” mode of expressing raw emotions when “bitch slapping” and “Fuck offing” just won’t do. I love watching the characters having to comport themselves so “correctly” as they explain to each other that they are going to ruin their families, steal their lovers, etc.

I love the roadblocks that the Victorian setting erects in the emotional road of the story and how effortlessly Jane navigates around them. She draws her characters feeling the deepest and rawest of emotions while having to maintain an outward appearance of dignity and respectability. The fact that she is able to convey that crushing sense of emotion to the reader without depictions of expressive behavior is just another example of her boggle the mind brilliance.

Okay, the gush must end and here is as good a place as any. You should really read this one. It’s good. 5.0 to 5.5 STARS. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

P.S. I listened to the audio version of this narrated by Juliet Stevenson and she was superb.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 53) (53 new)


Catie So, what's next on the Austen tour? May I suggest Persuasion?

Hilarious review!


Kelly Say it loud, say it proud, Stephen! :)


Stephen Catie wrote: "So, what's next on the Austen tour? May I suggest Persuasion?

Hilarious review!"


Thanks, Catie. I have read Persuasion and liked it, but I didn't warm to it as much as I did to this and Pride and Prejudice. Still very good. I think the next Austen for me is going to be Emma.


Stephen Kelly wrote: "Say it loud, say it proud, Stephen! :)"

Thanks, Kelly. It is getting easier. ;)


Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) So does a guy loving Jane Austen cancel out this chick who absolutely loathes anything the woman put to paper? :P


Stephen Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "So does a guy loving Jane Austen cancel out this chick who absolutely loathes anything the woman put to paper? :P"

Karla, yes the math works out perfectly. I will go ahead and take your seat at the JA fan club meetings. It's a win-win.


Kelly Stephen wrote: "Kelly wrote: "Say it loud, say it proud, Stephen! :)"

Thanks, Kelly. It is getting easier. ;)"


Good. :) I dooo have to say, at the risk of sounding like some sort of stick in the mud, that Jane's novels are not Victorian though. Big difference between her Regency setting, where women were (believe it or not) actually allowed more freedom and Victorian. The way Marianne cavorts with Willoughby would never be allowed under Victoria's reign. So Jane's characters had at least that license to be thankful for. :)


Stephen I did not know that, but I am glad you told me. I have always lumped all books from this period as Victorian (me just being overly general and not as well versed in the fiction of the period). I like the idea of separating the two periods in the future and will try and keep that in mind. Thanks!!


Wesley Thanks for the audiobook narrator recommendation!


Stephen Wesley wrote: "Thanks for the audiobook narrator recommendation!"

Your welcome. By the way, Flo Gibson did a great job reading Pride and Prejudice and I know she has a version of this book as well. Probably can't go wrong with either of those two reading Austen.


Wesley Sweet action! I'll snatch em' up.


Kelly Stephen wrote: "I did not know that, but I am glad you told me. I have always lumped all books from this period as Victorian (me just being overly general and not as well versed in the fiction of the period). I li..."

Sure. Important thing is that you enjoyed this one, no matter what period. :)


message 13: by Lea (new)

Lea Another vote from a girl who doesn't like all that girly stuff -- I loathe every classic I've ever attempted to read -- but damned if this review doesn't make me want to give Austen a try! And I would pay good money to see you strolling across the dessert in your bloomers, carrying your parasol!


Stephen Lea wrote: "And I would pay good money to see you strolling across the dessert in your bloomers, carrying your parasol!."

Something tells me there are at least a few photos floating around from my college days that are probably pretty close....gulp!!


message 15: by Lea (new)

Lea Stephen wrote: "Lea wrote: "And I would pay good money to see you strolling across the dessert in your bloomers, carrying your parasol!."

Something tells me there are at least a few photos floating around from my..."


Hoo boy, are any of your college chums on GoodReads? Better watch out, LOL.


Stephen Lea wrote: "Hoo boy, are any of your college chums on GoodReads? Better watch out, LOL..."

Fortunately (for me) none of them can read. ;)


message 17: by Velvetink (new) - added it

Velvetink "Man-comfortable"! "Man Intro"! That's what I love about you. Now if only the rest of the Men on GR would Man-up we might have a slight revolution.


Stephen Velvetink wrote: ""Man-comfortable"! "Man Intro"! That's what I love about you. Now if only the rest of the Men on GR would Man-up we might have a slight revolution."

Thanks, Velvetink. Let the revolution begin.


message 19: by Daniel (new)

Daniel After hearing Mieville wax adoringly about "Jane Eyre," I decided to pick it up. I farking loved it.

Your review--which was excellent, by the way--is now pointing me towards Austen, whom I've never read. And the timing is perfect, too, as I am trying to pick up more female authors these days.


Terri Lynn I really don't like Jane Austen's novels though I have read all of them to give them a chance. They had the feel of an 1800's soap opera to me with women who had nothing more in life than trying to latch on to the guy with the biggest inheritance and largest house and coach.
On the other hand, I do love the book Jane Eyre because Jane actually works to better her life by her own hard work and refuses to get involved with any man who does not respect her or be a mistress of a married man.
I am glad that you are open about what you like to read. Real men do not have to prove they are "manly" by choosing war novels or things with violence in them.


Maxine I always think that the problem with many critiques of Jane Austen's books is that her humour is so subtle that people misread them as romance. Sense and Sensibility is written in the Romantic style of the time (you know, all that overblown Byronesque stuff popular at the time) and then she pokes fun at it just as she pokes fun at gothic romances in Northanger Abbey. Personally, I love her books and think she is one of the wittiest writers ever. Enjoy Emma, it's pretty darn good although I'm with you about Pride and Prejudice - love, love, love that book. Have you read her letters to her sister? They're brilliant - Austen can make a laundry list seem witty.


message 22: by Kwesi 章英狮 (new)

Kwesi 章英狮 I love Jane Austen too!


message 23: by Miriam (new)

Miriam As well as being before the Victoria period, Austen is also before Bloomers. Just fyi :)


message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian Nice. I haven't yet read S&S but P&P is one of my all-time favs of any genre, for many of the same reasons you mention here.


Stephen Miriam wrote: "As well as being before the Victoria period, Austen is also before Bloomers. Just fyi :)"

You got me there, but bloomers struck me as so funny when it came to me that I just ran with it. :)


Catie Luckily, this is 2011, so you can still wear your bloomers are parasol outfit, AND walk across a desert! Yay!


message 27: by mark (new)

mark monday wonderful review stephen! you have quite a few snappy turns of phrase here that had me laughing out loud.


message 28: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 I hate Jane Austen (yup boo me) but the excellent review gets a big thumbs up! ps please post pics of yourself desert bound toting parasol and bloomers (pre or post victorian) - I will make it my desk top background.


message 29: by David (new)

David I'm also a Jane Austen-loving dude. Austen gets a bad rap for being "chick lit" but she really wasn't writing chick lit or romance, she was writing snarky social satire. Modern readers who think her books are all chick lit romances about landing a man miss the point.

I'm glad someone else spotted my pet peeve, that Austen's novels are not Victorian.


Stephen mark wrote: "wonderful review stephen! you have quite a few snappy turns of phrase here that had me laughing out loud."

Thanks, Mark. glad it made you chuckle.


Stephen Shovelmonkey1 wrote: "ps please post pics of yourself desert bound toting parasol and bloomers (pre or post victorian) - I will make it my d..."

LOL...:)


message 32: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Stephen,I love your review! It's great to see that there are some men out there who love Jane,too! Not to be picky, but the victorian era didn't start till 1837 and Jane died in 1817. Okay...that is being picky. Please don't hate me! LOL :)


Stephen Jamie wrote: "Stephen,I love your review! It's great to see that there are some men out there who love Jane,too! Not to be picky, but the victorian era didn't start till 1837 and Jane died in 1817. Okay...that i..."

LOL...Jamie, if you go up through the comments you will see I have been soundly chastised for my Victorian/Regency faux pas and will certainly not make the mistake again.


message 34: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Stephen wrote: "Jamie wrote: "Stephen,I love your review! It's great to see that there are some men out there who love Jane,too! Not to be picky, but the victorian era didn't start till 1837 and Jane died in 1817...."

Whoops...sorry Stephen! I should have done that!


Stephen Jamie wrote: "Stephen wrote: "Jamie wrote: "Stephen,I love your review! It's great to see that there are some men out there who love Jane,too! Not to be picky, but the victorian era didn't start till 1837 and Ja..."

Not a problem. Everyone, including you, was very nice about it and I took it as instructive, good natured ribbing.


message 36: by Miriam (new)

Miriam And hey, this is merely a casual review! I just read a book by an author who seems unaware that the Edwardian period is after, not before, the Victorian.


message 37: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie Miriam wrote: "And hey, this is merely a casual review! I just read a book by an author who seems unaware that the Edwardian period is after, not before, the Victorian."

What book was it?


message 38: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Godchild, #1. The author seems to imagine Victorian as an ambiance rather than an actual era.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Say it with pride, say it with your head high:) Glad to see that a man can admit his love for Jane Austen. I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice and really loving it- Jane is a snarky little genius.
And great review!


Stephen Leanne wrote: "Say it with pride, say it with your head high:) Glad to see that a man can admit his love for Jane Austen. I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice and really loving it- Jane is a snarky little ge..."

Thanks, Leanne. My Austen love is strong. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of her books and one of my all time favorite books period. I have Emma on deck as my next Austen and am looking forward to it.


Kaethe We're here, we're friends of Austen, get used to it! Welcome to the club, Stephen.

Austen gets a bad rap for being "chick lit" but she really wasn't writing chick lit or romance, she was writing snarky social satire

David, I'd argue that anything labeled "chick lit" is getting a bad rap. Writers like Jennifer Weiner, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, and Helen Fielding are also writing snarky social satire.


Stephen Kaethe wrote: "We're here, we're friends of Austen, get used to it! Welcome to the club, Stephen..."

Thanks, Kaethe...I'm proud to be a member of the Friends of Austen.


Joellen Jenkins I first read this in 11th grade. I can't count how many times since!


Stephen It is definitely one I can see myself rereading every couple of years.


message 45: by Nikhil (new)

Nikhil Saxena well this is one of the finest review i hv seen .......!!!!!!!!!!!


Stephen Nikhil wrote: "well this is one of the finest review i hv seen .......!!!!!!!!!!!"

Thank you very much, Nikhil. I am glad you liked it.


Cathy DuPont Stephen: Loved your review...real review for real people which was what I was looking for.

Haven't read an English novel in so many years that it will take me some time to get in the flow of the writing. But thanks to your review, I will continue on. Again, congratulations on great review and pretty funny, too. A rare man who expresses his sensitive side. Bet you're a hit in your family. Congratulations, job (review) well done, friend!


message 48: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Great review! Also, Juliet Stevenson rocks (she narrated some Bronte audiobooks too).


Stephen Moira wrote: "Great review! Also, Juliet Stevenson rocks (she narrated some Bronte audiobooks too)."

Thanks, Moira and I completely agree about Ms. Stevenson. She's terrific.


Richard How did I miss this one, Stephen?

One tiny quibble. Though Austen writes during the 19th century, her novels are set during the Georgian period, which is earlier than Victorian. Otherwise a great review--as usual!


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