y: Jane Austen (1775-1817)
Two sisters, one practical and full of commonsense, the other a passionate and emotional creature, an uncaring brother and his avaricious wife, a handsome rake and a faithful gentleman these are some of the unforgettable characters who make Jane Austen’s first published novel,
Sense and Sensibility such a delightful, witty and timeless classic. The novel was published under the pseudonym A Lady by its shy and retiring nineteen-year-old author, Jane Austen, in 1811.
She was the daughter of a country rector and lived all her life in the circle of her large and loving family in a little village in Hampshire, England.
There is very little autobiographical material available about her, as her well-meaning relatives burned and destroyed most of her diaries and letters after her death. Sense and Sensibility is a charming story of two sisters who see life from two very different viewpoints.
When their father suddenly dies, leaving his entire estate to their half-brother John, the sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, their mother and youngest sister Margaret are thrown at the financial mercy of John and his mean-minded wife, Fanny.
Mrs Dashwood and her daughters soon realize that they are not welcome at their former home Norland Hall. Fanny’s brother Edward Ferrars, who is quite different from his greedy and graceless sister, arrives and begins to form an attachment to Elinor, which is violently opposed by Fanny.
Mrs Dashwood is hurt and bewildered, but finally realizes that they have no option but to leave.
They move to Devonshire, where Mrs Dashwood’s cousin, Sir John Middleton welcomes them and helps them to find suitable lodgings. While out walking one rainy evening, Marianne suffers a small accident and is rescued by the suave and dashing John Willoughby.
She falls passionately in love with him. The story takes several interesting twists and turns, driven by the opposing natures of the two sisters. More than two hundred years after publication, this delightful tale still manages to capture the reader’s imagination as it echoes universal truths of passion, love, social status and ethics.
Sense and Sensibility is a coming of age novel, marked by Jane Austen’s deliciously ironic and sharp wit and famously under-stated style that will certainly appeal to modern-day readers.