Book Review: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

sense and sensibilityWhat’s it about?

Joanna Trollope’s much-anticipated contemporary reworking of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility will launch The Austen Project and be one of the most talked about books of 2013.

Two sisters could hardly be more different.

Elinor Dashwood, an architecture student, values discretion above all. Her impulsive sister Marianne displays her creativity everywhere as she dreams of going to art school.

But when the family finds itself forced out of Norland Park, their beloved home for twenty years, their values are severely put to the test.

Can Elinor remain stoic knowing that the man she likes has been ensnared by another girl? Will Marianne’s faith in love be shaken by meeting the hottest boy in the county? And when social media is the controlling force at play, can love ever triumph over conventions and disapproval?

Joanna Trollope casts Sense & Sensibility in a fresh new light, re-telling a coming-of-age story about young love and heartbreak, and how when it comes to money especially, some things never change…

My thoughts

This version of Sense and Sensibility is part of The Austen Project, in which 6 Austen novels are being reworked and dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. This one being the first of 6.

Having not read any Joanna Trollope novels or the original Jane Austen version or seen a movie adaptation I was able to read this re-told version of the classic without having to compare….although I am curious to know how true to the original this is and how much has been changed so please leave me a comment if you’ve read both.

The three Dashwood sisters and their mother find themselves turned out of their family home by their relatives and find themselves in a cottage in Devon provided another distant relative. How fortunate! What follows amounts to not much more than match making for the 2 older Dashwood sisters, in particular the middle sister Marianne.

I felt the way Bill Brandon seems to lust after her a bit disconcerting. I understood Marianne to be around 16/17 but assume Bill to be much much older and didn’t like how he pursued her. It isn’t written in a lustful pervy way but it’s underlying. I appreciate that it would have been the way it was done in Jane Austen’s era but it doesn’t sit right with me for the 21st century re-write.

As for Belle, I found her to be an incredibly selfish character. As a mother of 3 daughters, not once did she attempt to find a way out of her financial situation but just wallowed in self pity and I really wanted to slap her into reality.  So it’s down to sensible daughter Elinor to find a job to pay the bills! I really wanted her to stand up for herself with her mother and in her love life but she doesn’t.

If you take away the talk of iPods, cars and television it still has the feel of a traditional/classic novel, some of the dialogue and descriptive text I found to be quite old fashioned or maybe it was just posh! The old fashioned theme of women just needing to find a husband in life, family money and inheritance is still predominant.

I’ve tried reading classics and do struggle with the language and the copious amounts of descriptive text so this sounded like a great idea but I didn’t feel that the mixture of old and new really worked and should probably have been left alone.

Wenlock Books

Many thanks to Anna at Wenlock Books for passing me her review copy to read and review. Check out this lovely independent book store in the heart of Shropshire or connect with them via Twitter.

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