Monday, July 21, 2014

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

This is supposed to be a modern take on Jane Austen's classic novel.  Unfortunately it's been at least 25 years since I read the original so I cannot remember it well enough to compare.  However, I found that Trollope certainly captured the old fashioned formal language well.  And though the characters used modern amenities - iPods, sports cars, YouTube, etc. they still felt rather old fashioned to me.

The story centres on Elinor Dashwood - a serious, reliable architecture student who, when her father dies suddenly, is the self appointed caregiver for her flighty mother, Belle, her even flightier sister, Marianne, and her rebellious teenaged sister, Margaret.

When the father dies, the women are cast out of their home by the "evil" wife of their father's son from a prior marriage.  This is despite the fact that the women have lived in this ancestral home for their whole lives.  They are taken in by other sympathetic relatives because it appears only Elinor is capable of finding practical employ.

Both Marianne and Elinor appear to fall in love with the wrong man and we see how differently they cope with it.  There are a cast of entertaining characters in their new home - in particular the always affable, businessman John and his overbearing but kindhearted mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings.  Less likeable but equally entertaining are Lucy and Nancy, two gold digging god-daughters of Mrs. Jennings' late husband.  Lucy, in particular, gets in the way when she plans to marry Elinor's love interest, Edward.  Marianne instead falls for the handsome, but troublemaking John Willoughby though she is sought after by the reliable and caring Bill Brandon.

In the end all of the various threads are neatly woven together.  This is an entertaining, though not fantastic, read.  And much simpler than slogging through the original.

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