Eric Althoff's Reviews > Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
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it was ok

Hmmm, how to critique one of the most revered writers of romance literature? Now, before all of your Jane-ites get on my case for being unromantic or whatever, let me say only that unfortuantely, I read "Persuasion," Austen's last novel, and found it to be one of the best books I've ever read. Now having read "Sense and Sensibility," I will say that it truly doese feel like a first novel, as if the author was still trying to find her voice. So I've done the bookends of Austen, much like a concert of Beethoven's 1st and 9th symphonies...thus, comparisons between nascency and maturity are inevitable.

I will say that Austen's observations of the human mind, her cutting social critiques, and commentaries on the games and masquerades which were all but a necessity of British society in the 18th/19th centuries are fascinating and beautifully rendered. Her prose is art, but the story, in my opinion, is lacking. Two semi-rich young women do the social dance with men who are alternately gentlemanly or cads, reversals and revelations ensue, followed at the end by weddings which are not exactly meant to leave us with the warmest of feelings (as many weddings do). Many of the characters are unlikable (some are downright despicable) and I felt all along that much like Shakespeare, Austen's stories are meant to be performed rather than read, so that the subtleties of the social ingraces and the sublimations of true feelings can be more truly experienced by an audience. The plot itself is anything but complicated and I'm sorry to say that without Austen's ingenious prose, this novel would barely merit a footnote in history.

My recommendation for those of you who are not hardcore Austen fans, read "Persuasion" instead.

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Reading Progress

July 9, 2007 – Shelved
Started Reading
August 1, 2007 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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message 1: by Djuna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Djuna That's it. We are never to speak again.

message 2: by Eric (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eric Althoff First we're enemies and now we're not speaking any longer? Wow, if I had known this was how to push your buttons, maybe I would have read S&S a long time ago! Haha.

C'mon, though, "Persuasion" is a vastly superior work. Admit it.

message 3: by Djuna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Djuna It is mostly because I feel you made some good points. That is why it is -OVER-. I like my old, perfect world.

Apparently I'm ok with typed conversations, though.

message 4: by Eric (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eric Althoff Wow "over" in all caps! This is serious now. Sorry I have this bad habit of knocking people out of their paradises. I'm a realist.

You should come out for one drink on Monday. We don't have to speak, you know. You can talk to all the other readers.

Eric Althoff You make a good point for sure. Perhaps the art of this story was in describing what for her was perhaps the frankly conventional. Good point.

Kaeli I have not read Persuasion yet, although I am going to. I just read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, I am now about half way through Sense and Sensibility. I am forcing my way through because Marianne along with a few other characters drive me insane. I keep reading anyway though, because I had the same problem with Emma in the beginning the only person I liked at the beginning of the book was Mr. Knightly but now that I have finished I can say that I like or love them all. My hopes are that I will in the end at least be able to tolerant the characters of Sense and Sensibility. But I do see the point you make in her quality of writing, even Emma is far superior to Sense and Sensibility, but I have no reason to ridicule her writing, an authors first work can never be expected to be as good as her last.

Jennifer Jensen (Literally Jen) This is now my second attempt at reading 'Sense and Sensibility'. I've read P&P maybe 6 times and everything else with the exception of 'Sanditon' once. I'm finding this is the hardest one of her works for me to get through, and I'm not entirely sure why that is. I've seen the 1995 movie several times, so the story is not new to me. Perhaps I'm all Austened out. I've read quite a few Austen-related books in the past few weeks and I may just be ready for a break. Then again, this is my second attempt...

Mathew Rodriguez Actually, Northanger Abbey is her first novel.

Kaeli Yes, but we are referring to the fact that he says it feels like a first novel. Northanger Abbey was excellent by the way.

message 10: by BJW (new) - rated it 3 stars

BJW I'm going to take your advice and read Persuasion because I felt very let down by S&S.

Siegrist Persuasion is by far the best as writing, but Sense has the most heart. (Could have done with a good edit tho!)

message 12: by Maia (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maia B. Romance literature? There's a lot more here than just's a pretty wide generalization to make.

message 13: by Monica (new) - added it

Monica I don't necessarily believe its a matter of reason one over the other.. Rather someone new to Austen should read S&S first before Persuasion And not just other about s&S entirely

message 14: by Eric (new) - rated it 2 stars

Eric Althoff It's a good study in bookends. Both are interesting to read from the standpoint of how the author grew as a writer, both technically and as a storyteller.

message 15: by Tara (new) - added it

Tara You shouldn't think if Jane Austen is "Romance Literature". Yes, she wrote about love, (people falling in love, etc.) But she wrote parodies of the times, not sweet love stories. :)

Angelica Iafigliola rackow Can't agree more

message 17: by Emmy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emmy I agree persuasion is by far her best

Jenelle Howard Actually, S&S was not Austen's first written novel- Pride & Prejudice was. Austen felt that the very conservative public of her time would find it too cutting and brashly satirical, so she had S&S published first. I would recommend that you read the Norton critical editions of Austen's novels, which include several interesting supplementary articles to expand the narrow minds of readers, if you wish to post a truly informed and pragmatic review... Yours reads like a first attempt and will hardly make a mark on history.

message 19: by Emma (new) - added it

Emma You make a valid point. I have been trying my hand at Jane Austen for a while and right before reading Sense and Sensibility I read Persuasion and found it to be a much better book in its story line and in Austen's way of writing. I do agree with you when you say that this being Austen's first novel she is still beginning and experimenting to find her way of writting. Your critisism and praise for this book are equal to mine and I fully agree with your opinion.

message 20: by Pam (new) - added it

Pam I have always read that Northanger Abbey was actually her first book. She wrote both Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey in 1811. Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811 while Northanger Abbey did not get published until after her death in 1817.

message 21: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate A. It's been a while since I've read S&S, so now that I've read your opinion I think I'll be critiquing it more now. Persuasion is by far my favorite. It turns from the traditional "girl meets world" (like "Northanger Abbey" - even though that is my second favorite for its satire on the common novels of the era ;). I love Persuasion since it conveys different emotions than the ones of "first love"... it shows confusion, fatigue, her wondering if he still loves her after all this time, and then a spark of hope... it basically shows emotions of a more mature woman who wondered if she will be an old maid, and all of a sudden has a new chance on life.

message 22: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Thanks for the recommendation! Haven't read "Persuasion" yet but will do soon :)

Jerrica Bursik You should mark this as spoilers. I am still reading the book and halfway through this review I know the ending :(

message 24: by Tyler (new)

Tyler Persuasion is definitely a better book in my opinion. I agree in saying S&S is very rough in comparison.

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