Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Made little sense to me, and shook my sensibilities!

About Sense and Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeFrom Joanna Trollope, one of the most insightful chroniclers of family life writing fiction today, comes a contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s classic novel of love, money, and two very different sisters.

John Dashwood promised his dying father that he would take care of his half sisters. But his wife, Fanny, has no desire to share their newly inherited estate. When she descends upon Norland Park, the three Dashwood girls—Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret—are faced with the realities of a cold world and the cruelties of life without their father, their home, or their money.

With her sparkling wit, Joanna Trollope casts a clever, satirical eye on the tales of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Reimagining Sense and Sensibility in a fresh, modern new light, she spins the novel’s romance, bonnets, and betrothals into a wonderfully witty coming-of-age story about the stuff that really makes the world go around. For when it comes to money, some things never change...

My two cents

Does reading this count as a classic? Probably not. The problem with re-tellings or re-imaginings is that it's difficult to say anything when you haven't read the original (or I did read it but it was forgettable because it was required reading?) So I guess I'm not really qualified to say anything. *Shrug*

Overall, I would treat this as a nice fluffy read, like chick lit. It's fun, it's got lots of girly drama, and it's easy reading. I found myself quite drawn to Elinor's spunk and gumption and Marianne's dreamy romanticism.

Now, what really threw me off and made me roll my eyes quite a few times was the strange disconnect ... I think the modern setting and the rather dated attitudes didn't really mesh well. Just because the author throws in multiple references to the iPod, iPads, laptops, social media and other modernities doesn't instantaneously update a story! Some stories are best left in the era they were written.

For example, I was slightly weirded out how Belle and her three daughters ended up becoming destitute. Living off old money in a ridiculous sounding house, and being beholden to others for a place to live ... does this even happen in this day and age? And Elinor being forced to drop out of school ... is financial aid or any sort of scholarship not possible for someone as smart as Elinor? And the theatrics in many places ... man, oh, man.

I read this thinking that I would love this to the high heavens and I would lure me into reading the original. I will be definitely be reading the original if only to get the thought of this nonsensical modern retelling out of my head.

Verdict: As a non-Austen reader, I had problems with how transplanting a classic tale did not translate well into modern times. However, if you have read Sense and Sensibility, you may want to see what this re-telling does ... and maybe set me straight! :)

Photo credit Barker Evans
Photo credit: Barker Evans

About Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope is the #1 bestselling author of eighteen novels, including The Soldier’s Wife, Daughters-in-Law, Friday Nights, The Other Family, Marrying the Mistress, and The Rector’s Wife. Her works have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and several have been adapted for television. She was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in 1996 for her services to literature, and served as the Chair of Judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. She lives in London and Gloucestershire.

Find out more about Joanna on her website.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately it arrived too late for the scheduled TLC Book Tour.  

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10 comments :

  1. Bummer. Sorry you didn't dig it. I need to read the original myself.

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    1. At the least it's going to get a bunch of folks re-reading the original. Not a bad thing!

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  2. I really liked how true to the original this story was, but not having read the original, I can see where this story wouldn't hold much appeal. I was impressed at how well the author translated the outdated ideas to the present, but I agree that it still felt a bit out of place.

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    1. It seems like the majority of people who love the original are quite pleased with how this was written.

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  3. I can't argue with you at all (and said as much in my review too) and the original is one of my favorites so...

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  4. I've been curious about this one! I loved the original -- but I can see why the issues you point out would be problematic, in terms of whether the basic premise even makes any sort of sense in a modern setting. I think I'd still like to check it out eventually.

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    1. It's definitely worth checking out, esp since you loved the original, Lisa. You can probably say a bit more about the treatment than I can.

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  5. I agree with you. I'm half way through the book and am enjoying it as a piece of light reading. The setting and situations remind me of Downton Abbey so it does come as a surprising jar when the girls mention facebook, for instance. Ha, ha.

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