Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Review of Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Sense and Sensibility is a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s novel of the same title.  It retains the same setting and characters, although society and technology have certainly changed in many aspects.  Trollope’s novel is written in an omniscient point of view which allows the reader to see inside the heads of Marianne, Elinor, Belle (their mother), Margaret and even Wills (as in John Willoughby).  I loved this aspect of the novel as it made all the characters more human and explained their motives and thoughts.

Trollope is a very skilled writer.  I was impressed with the consideration that went behind all of the decisions she made in modernizing the story.  She was able to retain what makes this story charming even though it seems our world has changed so much.  She managed this, in part, by explaining that Edward Ferrars was old-fashioned, for example.  While Elinor does get a job in the story, her mother and Marianne remain unemployed because this is what they were accustomed to when they lived at Norland. 

I also appreciated how Elinor sees Edward’s faults, but loves him anyway.  Elinor is not the saint she appears to be in Austen’s novel.  She, like everyone else, sees how harsh and unfeeling her sensibility can make her.  It isn’t just Marianne who is flawed, but Elinor can learn from her younger sister as well.

This novel was a delight to read.  The language is fun and believable, fresh and inventive.  Trollope’s portrayal of the Steele girls is bang-on.  I did have hopes that young Thomas would find love in the story, but I admire that Trollope stuck to the original in this regard.  I hope she has plans to retell more of Austen’s books in the future.

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