None of Jane Austen's books really needs a review anymore - they are very well known all over the world, they have been reviewed and analyzed to death by countless generations of readers, literary critics, literary scientists and students. But my blog serves various purposes, one of which is a list of books I have read, just so that I can look them up again or check whether I have read something by a certain author before, for instance.
"Sense and Sensibility" was part of the many lovely gifts I received for my birthday this year. It may surprise you to learn that, although I was originally trained at Librarian School and worked at Ludwigsburg's central library for several years, until now I had never read any work by Jane Austen, in spite of knowing of her/about the books, of course.
I was therefore in for a pleasant surprise when I started reading and found that I actually enjoyed the book very much - there is elegance of language, style and wit, there are characters you can imagine rather well, and places described detailed enough to form a good picture in your mind while reading. Conversations and thoughts/feelings/emotions do have a slight tendency to go on a little long, but that is only in contrast to today's writing which is often rather fast-paced and suits the short attention span of the average person somewhat better.
There is no favourite character I have in the book; well, maybe Colonel Brandon and Mrs. Jennings, if I had to settle on a male and female one. And I would have liked to see a little more of Margaret, the youngest sister, who features only marginally. But the book was a delight to read, and I was pleased to come across terms I'd not seen before only once or twice.
The edition I was given (Oxford World's Classics) comes with additional information: There are an introduction, a "Note on the Text", a select bibliography and a chronology of Jane Austen's life and her works. The appendix contains even more information: A chapter about rank and social status (which are all-important to the story), one about Dancing and then a wealth of textual and explanatory notes.
Those explanations are not indispensable to understand the story, but they are very useful in providing some background. For instance, in the course of the book, the amount of money someone has - either as their annual income or their "total worth" - is mentioned frequently. To me, reading that "the living of Delaford was said to be worth around 200 pounds p.a." does not mean much - I have no idea how far 200 pounds would go in the early 19th century towards supporting a family in rural England. But with the explanations given in the appendix, the reader gets a pretty clear idea of what the sums mean, which were of course clear as day to Austen's contemporary readers.
Some words back in 1811 (when the story was first published) were spelled not as we spell them today. For instance, "show" was spelled "shew", "choose" was spelled "chuse", "crowd" was spelled "croud".
If you have followed the link back to my birthday post and looked at the rest of the presents on the table, maybe you have spotted the DVD there. I am really looking forward to watching it, now that I have finished the book, and will be comparing the way the characters look, talk and behave to the way I imagined them while reading.