Kelly's Reviews > Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, brit-lit, regency, owned, 19th-century, mawwiageiswhatbringsustogethertoday, its-the-quiet-ones
Recommended for: Austen fans, women

New review to come eventually. Can't quite put it all into words yet.
* * *
ORIGINAL:Ah, the third member of the Holy Trinity of Austen. Also deservedly so. This is my intellectual favorite of the Austens. By that, I'm not calling it "intellectual" I'm just saying that taking emotional attachment to other books out of it, this is my objective favorite Austen. I actually believe that the story of the women is better than Pride and Prejudice. Go on, shoot me for that one. I've taken it before for that. The romance might be better, more tight, more like one would idealistically want in Pride and Prejudice, but the ones here are more realistic and would have a better chance of lasting in real life. Colonel Brandon and Marianne are one of my favorite flawed couples of any piece of literature. This book finds faith in romances that are less than perfect, heroes who don't act like heroes (Colonel Brandon wins over the romantic figure of Willoughby in the end), and heroines who are at times geniunely ridiculous in the things they choose to do. Not because Austen writes them ridiculously. All women do things like that, and these girls find their way to love anyway. And not with the people conventional plotlines or even gothic strangeness would normally put them with either. By all rights, Eleanor and Colonel Brandon should make a quietly sensible couple, if one thinks about it. But that's not how this ends. There's enough romance left in it for some poetry to how the story ends. None of the men are one or even two dimensional, either. They don't merely serve as the means to the narcissitic heroine's end. No cardboard Prince Charmings with one ridiculous flaw here. They're very believable. I've always thought one of the strengths of Austen is that she writes novels that are undoubtably marketed to women, but men can still see themselves in her heroes if they read them.

The movie is my favorite Jane Austen movie, as a side note. And one of my favorites in general. I've been watching it since I was about 13. It's beautiful. So is the soundtrack. Emma Thompson's performance alone is worth the viewing. Ang Lee.. before he switched over to gay cowboys. Yes, he did period pieces. Who would have known, right?
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2001 – Finished Reading
June 12, 2007 – Shelved
June 12, 2007 – Shelved as: fiction
July 22, 2008 – Shelved as: brit-lit
July 29, 2009 – Shelved as: regency
September 11, 2009 – Shelved as: owned
March 2, 2010 – Shelved as: 19th-century
June 14, 2011 – Shelved as: mawwiageiswhatbringsustogethertoday
August 17, 2011 – Shelved as: its-the-quiet-ones
April 27, 2012 –
page 190
46.45% "I had seriously forgotten Elinor's amazing ability to eat people alive. But you know, politely."

Comments Showing 1-50 of 80 (80 new)


message 1: by Taylor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new) - added it

Taylor The movie is my favorite Jane Austen movie, as a side note. And one of my favorites in general.

hellll yes.


message 2: by Kelly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly Oh, you like this movie? I had /no/ idea. :)


message 3: by Taylor (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:16AM) (new) - added it

Taylor yeah, I don't like romance or redheads or period pieces or europe or anything like that at all. nope.


Yulia You actually thought Emma Thompson was appropriate as a Dashwood daughter and not as the beleaguered mother? I'm still getting over the casting. As for "Brokeback Mountain," now that was brilliant film-making.


Kelly Emma Thompson admitted herself that she was not age appropriate for the role, but selfishly put herself in it anyway. I think her maturity was good for the role, if not her age. It gave such a poignancy to the character. I can't think of a younger actress that would have done as well.

I thought Kate Winslet was brillantly cast, however. Perfection. And age appropriate.


message 6: by Yulia (last edited May 08, 2008 07:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yulia Oh, I'm so sorry I didn't get your joke, Robert. It was my fault for not understanding better. Like my parents, I take people much too literally, though I always make jokes myself (not a good combination).

The short story by Proulx I did like, but actually not nearly as much as the film, though both brought me to tears. Ang Lee truly is a master.

By the way, Kelly, thanks so much for the lovely globe-crossing discussion on Catherine M..


message 7: by Kelly (last edited May 08, 2008 08:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly Robert- of course you're a good guy. You watched Sense and Sensibility. Not only that, you connected to it. That makes you a good guy in my book, even if we didn't know that from other things, which we do.

I haven't read the Brokeback short story, but when Heath Ledger broke down in tears behind that barn I also lost it. I think there are a lot of similiarities between the movies- open, yawning space, isolation, reflection, stark contrast, etc. Its there if you think about it.

And you're welcome, Yulia. thanks for the lively exchange of good, interesting opinion, I enjoyed it just as much. Thanks for the review!


Moira Russell That movie is lovely.


Kelly It is, isn't it? I watch it every year, basically, and I always find something new to appreciate. This most recent time was how much time and importance the script gives to the relationships between the women and how awesomely, honestly felt those get to be in comparison with their relationships with the men. The scene where Elinor sobs over almost dead-maybe Marianne gets me every time.


Moira Russell Kelly wrote: "Emma Thompson admitted herself that she was not age appropriate for the role, but selfishly put herself in it anyway

I was just looking up the ages of the actors in it the other day, since I'm rereading/reading the giant Annotated Version and had forgotten Col Brandon is old at THIRTY-FIVE. (Jesus, I remember thirty-five. It wasn't yesterday, either.) Rickman was fifty, Winslet was I think twenty, Grant thirty-five (I think Edward is what, twenty-five?) and Thompson thirty-six or thirty-seven. I think they aged up Elinor to twenty-seven in the movie, which I thought worked fine; one of the difficulties in the novel is that Elinor often either sounds much too mature for nineteen, or sententious. So even Winslet was older than her character, although she didn't look it.

IIRC Thompson wrote it for Natasha and Joely Richardson (who would have been twenty-seven and twenty-five, respectively, in 1990, when she first began writing it). Supposedly Lee was the one who persuaded her; an excellent choice on his part, since anyone else would have been swamped by Winslet's wonderful acting. (As it is I think Elinor, Edward, _and_ Col Brandon are all much more expressive and warm-hearted than they are in the book, but, well, it's a 20th-century movie ((and I adore it)).)

Eleanor and Colonel Brandon should make a quietly sensible couple, if one thinks about it. But that's not how this ends

I really like that way of putting it.


message 11: by Kelly (last edited Nov 21, 2011 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly Supposedly Lee was the one who persuaded her; an excellent choice on his part, since anyone else would have been swamped by Winslet's wonderful acting.

Oh wow, I'm really glad he talked her into it too because I think you're spot on in the way you put it. I totally agree that that script needed a Rock of an actor for Elinor to anchor Winslet's amazingness. Otherwise there's no way for us to see why Marianne survives and why she marries Colonel Brandon, why she changes instead of just falling headlong in love with the next loser to come along- like many later Romantic heroines (Emma Bovary, Linda from Pursuit of Love, etc). Emma Thompson was so great a projecting love and caution at the same time. There's something wonderfully earthy about a lot of her roles, I think. Without sacrificing the intelligence. She did the same thing with her Love Actually character.

Eleanor and Colonel Brandon should make a quietly sensible couple, if one thinks about it. But that's not how this ends

I really like that way of putting it.


I read a modern day take on S&S recently where the author had her Elinor end up with the Colonel Brandon character and it SUCKED. I hated it. I love those two characters as friends- they are the ones who Get It, and I believe that they could jointly, kindly, rule the world, but I don't want them to be together. That would say things about those characters that I don't agree with, you know?


Moira Russell that script needed a Rock of an actor for Elinor to anchor Winslet's amazingness. Otherwise there's no way for us to see why Marianne survives and why she marries Colonel Brandon, why she changes instead of just falling headlong in love with the next loser

Oh yeah, even in the book Mrs Dashwood is sort of sweet and flighty (like Marianne, heh) and Elinor is much more of a mother figure -- I think you're right Marianne really wouldn't survive without her. As it is, she barely does!

There's something wonderfully earthy about a lot of her roles, I think. Without sacrificing the intelligence

YES, exactly. I do like Elinor (so careful about gathering her data and making judgments! and the great catty little scene with Lucy over the filagree!) but there is a certain calculating quality to her in the novel that might come off really poorly onscreen, only Thompson really lights her up.

I read a modern day take on S&S recently where the author had her Elinor end up with the Colonel Brandon character and it SUCKED

//facedesk

I bet it did!

I love those two characters as friends- they are the ones who Get It, and I believe that they could jointly, kindly, rule the world, but I don't want them to be together

I think it's important they are friends too -- if there was a romantic spark that would be oh so terribly awkward later on, and the emphasis in Austen is on not just romantic individual fulfillment through marriage, but in fitting together as a family, a social unit.


Kelly I do like Elinor (so careful about gathering her data and making judgments! and the great catty little scene with Lucy over the filagree!) but there is a certain calculating quality to her in the novel that might come off really poorly onscreen, only Thompson really lights her up.

Huh. You know you're right. I haven't read the book in so long that I tend to forget this. Thompson's interpretation of her totally dominates the way I think about Elinor, so I totally forgot that part of her character. Even though it IS on display in the film, she just does it in such a way that you can tell that she's honestly trying to express what she thinks rather than being emotional.

the emphasis in Austen is on not just romantic individual fulfillment through marriage, but in fitting together as a family, a social unit.

Yeah, absolutely. Although she sort of breaks this rule with P&P, because you can just imagine that there are lots of problems left over from the bennet family that come to haunt the marriages of the older two sisters. But at least just in the strict sense of putting them where they "belong" by who they are the principle is still there.

PS- The reasoning she gave behind the Colonel Brandon character getting Elinor is that the Edward character doesn't have any spine and couldn't overcome his familial obligations to do whatever he could to get her anyway, or something dumb like that. I need to stop reading Austen reinterpretations!


Moira Russell Thompson's interpretation of her totally dominates the way I think about Elinor, so I totally forgot that part of her character

OH, me too, yeah. It is really hard for me to not picture Thompson while reading -- and to not age Elinor up, because she REALLY doesn't seem nineteen most of the time. I don't mean she's badly characterized or unconvincing, because I like her a lot, but it just doesn't quite fit. Nobody else in the book really matches her rationality (certainly not Edward, maybe not even Col Brandon, who is sort of quietly Romantic, oxymoron tho that is). I'm actually really grateful Thompson wrote the film (it's one of my favourites) because without it I might have never revisited the book (I HATED it the first time I read it), and it really is good.

The reasoning she gave behind the Colonel Brandon character getting Elinor is that the Edward character doesn't have any spine and couldn't overcome his familial obligations

WHUT

But the thing that ties Elinor and Brandon together is that they both love Marianne! alkdjflaskjdfljasldfk


message 15: by Kelly (last edited Nov 22, 2011 01:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly Nobody else in the book really matches her rationality (certainly not Edward, maybe not even Col Brandon, who is sort of quietly Romantic, oxymoron tho that is).

This is totally true. I think Austen does a great job with showing the various degrees and kinds of "sensibility" and "sense". Colonel Brandon's the most heartbreaking one, but also the one that I think shows that Austen isn't making the argument that some people seem to think she's making with this one, that sensibility has to be crushed entirely.

But the thing that ties Elinor and Brandon together is that they both love Marianne! alkdjflaskjdfljasldfk

The only thing I will give the author is that I also think that Elinor and Brandon are tied by a certain similiar view of the world in many respects, and you can see why they'd go together in theory. But only if you are WRONG because their Marianne thing is definitely the most important part, I agree.


message 16: by Moira (last edited Nov 22, 2011 11:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Moira Russell Kelly wrote: "I think Austen does a great job with showing the various degrees and kinds of "sensibility" and "sense".

Yes, totally -- I was also struck by how few villains there really are. Mr and Mrs Palmer sort of grow on you, Mrs Jennings turns into a delight (do we ever learn her first name? that kinda bugs me ((not Jane's fault)) ), and even John Dashwood is....not redeemed, but seen in a kindly light. Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Steele are maybe the only true villains.

Colonel Brandon's the most heartbreaking one, but also the one that I think shows that Austen isn't making the argument that some people seem to think she's making with this one, that sensibility has to be crushed entirely.

BRANDON <33333333333....AHEM. Yes, and even though the marriage always seems a little rushed, he and Marianne do genuinely love and help each other -- both of them brighten up.

Also forgot that in that scene where Brandon is Telling All to Elinor he kisses her hand and it's scorching, alksdjflasjdflsdf. But also completely Platonic!

I've never seen this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_an... I wonder how good it is. BUT:

In The Independent Thomas Sutcliffe called the opening scene "a soft-porn sequence of flame-lit skin and slow unlacing". Yet he asserted that "once that initial silliness was out of the way and [the adaptation] came to its senses" it was "pretty good".

Oy vey. YES, LET'S SEX JANE UP! LIKE UNDRESSING EMILY DICKINSON! SHOW THOSE VIRGIN AUTHORS WHAT'S WHAT.

("I want this to be a picture of dignity! A true canvas of the suffering of humanity!" "But with a little sex in it." "With a little sex in it.")


message 17: by Emilie (last edited Mar 23, 2012 01:34PM) (new)

Emilie i love what you are saying about "genuinely ridiculous in the things that they choose to do". and i love this movie, too. i love the way kate and emma play off each other, and give each other strength. i agree that elinor is marianne's rock, i think, though, that marianne helps elinor to shift, too.

but also the one that I think shows that Austen isn't making the argument that some people seem to think she's making with this one, that sensibility has to be crushed entirely.

yes! i always get so frustrated when people think that austen is arguing against sensibility. it seems to me that she shows repeatedly that her view is that going to either extreme is problemmatic and she values finding a ground that includes the two.


Kelly i agree that elinor is marianne's rock, i think, though, that marianne helps elinor to shift, too.

I think that that is also absolutely true. Elinor is so self-disciplined that she could have crushed herself with self-denial and she could have become hard and bitter in the end without Marianne. I think the movie did such a great job of showing that Elinor loves Marianne so much, she's not opposed to her. So yeah, totally agree about finding a ground that includes both. I'd argue that Marianne marrying Brandon isn't a denial of sensibility, it's an evolution.


message 19: by Kelly (last edited Mar 24, 2012 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly I can see that, for sure. I see it as my "intellectual" favorite because this was the first Austen I was able to pick apart in a way that was really useful to me. Whenever I read this I spend a lot of time arguing with myself over the nuances and maneuverings of the scenes. There's a whole lot of really questionable stuff that goes on here, and it's an amazing balancing act of choices all the way through, choices beyond just sense and sensibility. For example, everyone's decisions whether or not to tell other people what they know and why, and what that says about them. Colonel Brandon vs. Lucy, you know? So good.

This is not to say that I don't get emotional whenever I watch the movie. That scene where Elinor finally loses it when Marianne is in danger of dying gets me every time.


message 20: by Kelly (last edited Mar 24, 2012 07:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly I don't remember whether that scene was in the book! If it wasn't, Thompson is even more brilliant than I thought she was.


Kelly Right right right. I really need to re-read this, it's been years. Time for another go-around, I think.


message 22: by Meredith (last edited Mar 24, 2012 12:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meredith Holley This is my favorite Austen, too! I love it sooooo much.

I think that scene is in the book. Maybe not, though. Now I'm confused. The scene that's not in the movie that I love so much in the book is where Elinor tells Willoughby off. I love that scene to pieces.


Kelly Yeah I wonder why she took that out? Because the story is really more about the two sisters, especially at that point, maybe? It would have been satisfying to see, though.


Meredith Holley I would think you have to sacrifice a lot in general in writing a movie script. You're probably right about the focus on the sisters, though. Plus, it is a little too satisfying, maybe? In real life I almost never get to tell someone off when I want to, so maybe Thopmson thought it would look maudlin on film.


Meredith Holley Really? I remember loving how it went down. It's been years, though. Maybe it was more that it seemed like he understood that he was an asshole, but I thought that I liked how elinor played it, too.


Kelly Yeah I'm not sure how it happened, I kind of stumbled onto it on my kindle and read a page.. then another... and well you know how that goes.


message 27: by Tiffany (last edited Apr 26, 2012 05:45PM) (new)

Tiffany Kelly wrote: "Yeah I'm not sure how it happened, I kind of stumbled onto it on my kindle and read a page.. then another... and well you know how that goes."

That's funny. I stumbled upon Wuthering Heights on my Kindle yesterday morning and I got so sucked into it that I am now re-reading it.

I re-read Sense and Sensibility a year or two ago and I couldn't help but see Kate Winslet as Marianne the entire time. Which was fine by me. I love that adaption.


Vicki Seldon I agree with you about the book and the movie.


message 29: by Kelly (last edited Apr 27, 2012 05:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kelly That's funny. I stumbled upon Wuthering Heights on my Kindle yesterday morning and I got so sucked into it that I am now re-reading it.

Free kindle ebooks are dangerous!!

And yeah, the book and the movie are still great, Vicki. Time and this reread has not changed my mind.


message 30: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Wait, so is the holy trinity Sense/Pride/Emma or is it Sense/Pride/Persuasion?


message 31: by Meredith (last edited Apr 27, 2012 10:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meredith Holley Jason wrote: "Wait, so is the holy trinity Sense/Pride/Emma or is it Sense/Pride/Persuasion?"

Persuasion for me!


message 32: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I like that answer!


Kelly For me its Sense/Pride/Emma, but I have been schooled by many people about how wrong I am to leave out Persuasion. Perhaps I should invent a Holy Quadrilateral?


Kelly I guess. I think when I originally wrote that I was just more trying to highlight the fact that some of them receive a lot more attention than others- with movies and retellings and so on. I suppose it is all relative with Austen.


message 35: by Jude (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jude kelly- thanks for this. I now know the films better than the books, and I'm wondering if you've seen the Persuasion from BBC. I love Emma's S & S, and the highly revisionist Mansfield Park, but there is something so quietly perfect about Persuasion. It doesn't feel big enough to actually be an apples to apples comparison with the other films, but it's a jewel-the performances, casting, the visual composition/narrative. don't wanna hijack, but would love your opinion.


Kelly Yeah, it's definitely still the best done Austen film.


message 37: by Emilie (new)

Emilie why is fanny hard to love? i love her in the film, but i haven't read mansfield parkyet.


Meredith Holley Emilie wrote: "why is fanny hard to love? i love her in the film, but i haven't read mansfield parkyet."

She is veeeeeerrrrrryyyy different in the book. I would say, even, the opposite of how she is in the film. The film is not very similar to the book, and I love that about it, not just because the book was not for me. Sense and Sensibility is definitely my least favorite of the movies (not counting the new P&P or the new Persuasion). I loooooove the new S&S, though. And I like the old S&S, it is just my least favorite of the movies.


message 39: by Jude (last edited Apr 29, 2012 06:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jude There's a new Persuasion? Feeling like total chopped liver here ;-> since no one else mentioned the one i love so much -
ETA - ah - i am so out of it living tv -free. I'll find the 2007 & check it out, tho it will take a lot to beat the earlier one. Herewith ends my conversation with m'self ;->


Meredith Holley Oh, the older Persuasion with Amanda Root is one of my favorite movies of all time.

The new one has Adam from the later MI-5 seasons, who is really too handsome to be a very good Wentworth, and the girl who plays Anne is totally creepy. It is almost hilariously bad, imo. It would be hilariously bad if I didn't take it so personally.


Meredith Holley Elizabeth wrote: "The more recent one was...unfortunate in how it fell apart completely there at the end."

Man, all that staring at the camera and running awkwardly through the streets of bath. So awful.


Meredith Holley What, indeed, the fuck. I like Adam in general. I just thought they failed as a couple. Like Riley/Buffy-type fail. He's pretty hot, and she gives you the feeling you should hide your children just in case because no good could come of that look on her face. I did not intend to rhyme there.

I had forgotten Anthony Stewart-Head was in it. <3! I hadn't watched Buffy yet at the time it came out. Funny!


message 43: by Jude (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jude wow- a slight negative nod to the 1995 Persuasion, and a wild appreciation of Emma's S&S -quite a read! (references Monty Python, for instance - in a complimentary way ;->)

http://bostonreview.net/BR21.1/stone....


Meredith Holley Huh, that's interesting. I think both are good, but I love Persuation. But, I also really like Ingmar Bergman, so I can't really understand that as an insult.


message 45: by Jude (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jude Elizabeth wrote: "Wait, weren't we talking about the 1996 one with Ciran Hinds and Amanda Root? Because that's the only one worth talking about. The more recent one was...unfortunate in how it fell apart completely ..."

that's the one i like & asked Kelly about - but the discussion hailing S&S as the best done Austen film just kept rolling along, so as far as i know Sparrow is only other person to mention Persuasion film(s) after I first asked Kelly... ? No matter, really!


message 46: by Emilie (new)

Emilie i'm intrigued. fanny sounds lovable to me. that's interesting because in the movie, i felt this strange and confusing tension a few times around what they told me that fanny was quiet and withdrawing and timid and drab and how she acted which was not really like that at all. i think it's spirited to have that kind of backbone. that's interesting too, because a lot of people complain about emma, too. she sounds maybe more suited to marry a country parson(i don't know if that's the right word).
i didn't know there was a new sense and sensibility.


Meredith Holley Emilie wrote: "i didn't know there was a new sense and sensibility."

I totally love it.

Elizabeth is a pretty good saleswoman on the book version of fanny. I would characterize her somewhat differently. But, it will be cool if you like her.


message 48: by Emilie (new)

Emilie who is in the new sense and sensibility? (i keep coming up with the emma/kate one.)

how would you characterise her?


Meredith Holley The dude from Mama Mia is Willoughby. I can't remember who else. Here it is: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0847150/

It always makes Elizabeth sad when I talk about her, so I will put it in spoilers. (view spoiler) I can see the arguments about some kind of accuracy, but in looking at the other Austen books, I have to believe that there are ways of being entertaining and still somewhat accurate.


message 50: by Jude (last edited Apr 29, 2012 07:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jude found it! ( haven't seen it)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_an...

oooh! written by Andrew Davies - i am usually very happy with his adaptations
(P&P, and the amazing Bleak House)

ETA -oh wait - i DID see some of this? gad - the brain she is SO only good up to about age 40 - anyway - there was some harumphing about kicking it off with a sex scene, cuz, well, there *was* no sex in the Austen Era, only sexual tension... but then i think it settled down & was fine. Of course no third sister - i guess different writers make up different things ;->


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