You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

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Group Themed Reads: Discussions > March read: Sense and Sensibility ~ discussion lead by Emma

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message 1: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments This is the thread for discussing this month's read Sense and Sensibility with your discussion leader Emma.


message 2: by Cecily (last edited Mar 05, 2010 06:30AM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments I'm reading - is anyone else?

I have a copy that uses the original typography (I think many editions modernise it), which shows how much what we think is "correct" has changed.

In the first 50 pages, I've seen:
* her's;
* what are now compound words, but weren't then: bed-rooms, every thing and every body;
* "an" rather than "a" used before numerous "h" words: house, handsome, hill, happy and high;
* "brilliancy" (rather than brilliance);
* old spellings including shew, ancles and stiled;
* a comma inside brackets, where we would put it immediately outside;
* numerous sentences starting with a dash;
* semi-colons immediately followed by conjunctions.

None of which relates to this month's theme of Inspirational Women (on the other hand, Wednesday was National Grammar Day in the US), but when I've read a little more, I'll post again.


message 3: by Emma (new)

Emma | 80 comments I have a similar edition and when I was younger it used to drive me to distraction but I find myself more forgiving in my old age. I read a book recently about the evolution of English and it used Austen as an example of the rapidly changing language.

I'm almost finished with my re-reading of it, so tomorrow I will post some discussion points :)


message 4: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments What was the book - would you recommend it? (I like David Crystal's The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left as a good intro to the subject).


message 5: by Leshawn (new)

Leshawn | 9 comments I've begun in earnest and look forward to joining the discussion! I am reading a modern edition, so I can only enjoy the comments about original typography! Ahhh...yes...that's me enjoying it! (Smile)


message 6: by Jo (new)

Jo (Jo_Wales) | 62 comments Have my copy of the book now so will join in the discussion shortly!


message 7: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I've got the book ready on my bedside table. As soon as I have finished my current read, I'm in!


message 8: by Emma (new)

Emma | 80 comments Finally finished reading - some discussion points from notes I made:

In comparison to the male characters do the female characters seem more vivid and well drawn?

Are the female characters still relevent to today? Is the book in general relevent?

Elinor is the sense, and Marianne is the sensibility, but which of the woman in the book is the most inspirational?

Is is possible to sympathise with Willoughby or Lucy Steele?

How does Sense and Sensibility line up with standard expectations of Austen?


message 9: by Emma (new)

Emma | 80 comments Emma wrote: "I have a similar edition and when I was younger it used to drive me to distraction but I find myself more forgiving in my old age. I read a book recently about the evolution of English and it used ..."

It was (don't laugh) The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way.


message 10: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Why would anyone laugh? That's a great book too (though I read it before I was on Good Reads, so haven't got it on my online bookshelf).

I now feel a little guilty for leading the discussion so far off topic, but I'm still only on page 55 of Sense and Sensibility (busy weekend).

Nevertheless, I'm finding that reading it with a particular focus on "strong women" is a useful way of noticing the relationships between the female characters, rather than the potential and actual romantic relationships, which is what one tends to do with Austen, I find.


message 11: by Emma (new)

Emma | 80 comments Cecily wrote: "Nevertheless, I'm finding that reading it with a particular focus on "strong women" is a useful way of noticing the relationships between the female characters, rather than the potential and actual romantic relationships, which is what one tends to do with Austen, I find."

Indeed! As much as I loved the BBC's Pride and Prejudice it did make Austen into something of a romantic writer in the public imagination, which does her a great injustice.

That said, I think Bridget Jones's Diary is more in the spirit of Austen than a great deal of the soppy romantic literature which has sprung from her legacy. Fielding seemed to notice that it was the female relationships and not the romantic relationships which were important to the story.

Incidentally, if anyone gets time do have a look around some of the Austen obsessive websites. I spent many an amused hour over the weekend looking at one in paticular which seemed to entirely overlook some of the seedier aspects of Sense and Sensibility.


message 12: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments I read and enjoyed several Austen many years ago. The only one I've reread recently is Northanger Abbey, which I haven't seen on screen.

Reading S&S, it's well written and at times witty, but it's too familiar, and even with the focus of "inspirational women" and Emma's questions, I confess I'm struggling to enjoy this as much as I expected.

Can anyone help me regain the love?


message 13: by Emma (new)

Emma | 80 comments I find the story really doesn't begin until Lucy Steele arrives on the scene with her shocking news...

Personally I was always more absorbed with the sub plots, especially Col. Brandon's ward.


message 14: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments I’m almost half way through, so I’ll respond to some of Emma’s questions.

1. Emma wrote: "In comparison to the male characters do the female characters seem more vivid and well drawn? ..."

Yes, I think that’s pretty incontrovertible, and not really surprising when the story is told from the perspective of women and written by a spinster in days where such a woman’s encounters with and thus understanding of men would be relatively limited.

2. Emma wrote: "In Are the female characters still relevant to today? Is the book in general relevant? ..."

I think the issues of who one is loyal to, saving face versus wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve etc are still relevant, though for me, relevance doesn’t affect the validity or enjoyment of a book.

3. Emma wrote: " Elinor is the sense, and Marianne is the sensibility, but which of the woman in the book is the most inspirational? ..."

I suspect different people will give a different answer, depending on which character they most closely identify with. I’ll withhold judgement till I get to the end.

4. Emma wrote: "In Is is possible to sympathise with Willoughby or Lucy Steele? ..."

Not yet, though I seem to recall it becomes a little more feasible by the end of the book.

5. Emma wrote: " How does Sense and Sensibility line up with standard expectations of Austen?..."

I can’t answer that because Austen is too familiar; my expectations predate my conscious analysis of what her books are like.

Is this anyone’s first encounter?


message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenofthebookworm) Is it possible to sympathise with Willoughby or Lucy Steele? No it's not, firstly why would you sympathise with Lucy when she gets exactly what she wants and as for Willoughby he made his choice and that was to marry for money instead of love.

Do the female characters seem more vivid and well drawn? Yes although as it is written from the perspective of women and Elinor in particular than that is to be expected,also given that Austen was a spinster and the society that she would have lived in it's not that surprising that the male characters are not as well defined.

This is the second time I've read this book, no doubt like many others in the group I had to read it at school. I really didn't like it but I decided to give it a second chance as I put my not liking it the first time down to hating being told what to read but it still didn't grab me. I prefer George Eliot to Jane Austen


message 16: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments I've finished it, and still couldn't win myself over to it.

In answer to Emma's question 4 about whether one can sympathise with Willoughby and Lucy Steele, I think I can slightly sympathise with Willoughby (he more or less persuaded Elinor), but Lucy has no redeeming features at all.

My review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


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