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Sense & Sensibility Hardcover – October 29, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

(Aug.) Brit author Trollope brings Austen's classic into the new millennium, with mixed results. After Henry Dashwood dies, the Dashwood sisters and their mother are given a house by kindly rich relatives John and Mary Middleton, while the estate that was the Dashwood home passes to the sisters' henpecked half-brother John and his status-conscious wife Fanny. Elinor, the responsible eldest Dashwood sister, is smitten with Fanny's brother Edward Ferrars, though she hasn't heard from him since the move, and he, unbeknownst to her, has been dating the daffy Lucy Steele. Delicate, dramatic, and gorgeous, middle sister Marianne falls for eye-candy John "Wills" Willoughby, though he treads on her heart by publicly rejecting her. All this is conveyed in formal prose with equally stiff dialogue, which makes Trollope's offhand mentions of laptops and Range Rovers somewhat jarring. And yet, Trollope's faithfulness to the tropes of this story keep her from letting the plot jibe with the modern world, though she does wink at that: "You're like those nineteenth-century novels where marriage is the only career option for a middle-class girl." The book's resolution for Marianne seems especially unlikely in this era, and could have benefitted from a more malleable adaptation. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Agency. (Nov.)

From Booklist

Music is listened to with ear buds attached to iPods, gossip is passed via texts on smartphones, and scandal is exploited through viral videos on YouTube. Other than that, Trollope’s reworking of Austen’s classic stays true to the original. The Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, are still hopeless and helpless in affairs of the heart. Marianne still endangers her health and reputation by pining over the nefarious John “Wills” Willoughby, while Elinor still sends and receives mixed messages from the equally hapless Edward Ferrars. Variously supported and undermined by their more financially secure and socially connected relatives—John and Fanny Dashwood and the entire Millington clan down in Devon—the Dashwood women somehow still manage to have things turn out all right in the end. By updating Austen’s first published novel to reflect modern slang, dress, and conveniences, Trollope brings an accessibility to this romantic comedy of manners that may appeal to the Bridget Jones crowd. True Austen fans, however, will undoubtedly still prefer the original. --Carol Haggas

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 9/29/13 edition (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062200461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062200464
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years. Some of her best known works include The Rector's Wife (her first #1 bestseller), A Village Affair, Other People's Children, and Marrying the Mistress. She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honors List for services to literature. She lives in England.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Warning! This review may involve wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to mention cursing...of both kinds. Persons of a sensitive disposition may wish to look away now. And on the assumption that no-one will be interested in this who doesn't know the original, there are some mild spoilers...

The Austen project is a strange little idea to rewrite all the Austen novels for a modern age. Why? It certainly can't be because the originals are unreadable - I'd imagine they are more popular today than they have ever been. One can only assume they see it as a money-spinner. I'm delighted to say I got this book free - and even then it was too expensive.

The original Sense and Sensibility deserves its place as a classic because of the light it casts on the restricted lives and opportunities of the sons and daughters of the 'gentry' in Jane Austen's time. This fake S&S concentrates on the same class, but is set in the present day. Unfortunately, society has changed so much that the premise doesn't work. In order to make the story fit into today's England - where opportunity for the middle-classes is almost infinite, where women are freer and more equal than they have ever been and where the norm is for people without money to do that revolutionary thing and get a job - Trollope has decided to make most of the characters completely feckless and thus entirely unsympathetic.

The story begins with the Dashwood family losing their home at Norland. Not because it's entailed - oh, no! Because Mr Dashwood never bothered to marry Mrs Dashwood (Belle, heaven help us!) and so his great-uncle left the house to his legitimate nephew rather than his illegitimate nieces.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By celticsfan34 VINE VOICE on September 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's hard to fathom why Joanna Trollope wants to jump on the Jane Austen bandwagon at this point in her established career. It's an increasingly overcrowded and tedious bandwagon (what's a bandwagon, anyway?) and Trollope's effort here is not a success. The plot from Austen's novel is translated here almost verbatim to the 21st century but the problem is, in a modern era, it's just not a compelling story. When Austen's young heroines agonized over finding the right husband, it's because the marriage decision for them an irrevocable one, absolutely critical to their emotional and economic lives, for their entire lives. In a contemporary setting, why is it so important whether Marianne ends up with "Wills" Willoughby or "Bill" Brandon? If she makes a mistake, it's hardly an irrevocable one. And Edward's promise to marry Lucy Steele hardly bears the same weight in 2013 as it did in 1811 - no one will think him a cad if he backs out; they'll think he's right not to marry a girl he doesn't love.

Joanna Trollope's earliest novels are terrific depictions of contemporary life - real people caught up in real ethical and moral dilemnas. But her most recent novels just aren't as complex or compelling, and this one is real fluff.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Suellen J. Bahleda on November 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The "updates" felt artificial, forced, and unnecessary. Very dull, in contrast to the sparkling Jane Austen original. It stoops to a lowest common denominator...really, describing a character as 'pussy-whipped' proves how empty this exercise is.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was so excited when this was published and I eagerly purchased a copy with plans to share my find with my students. As a lecturer of the Austen version I was extremely disappointed with this. The insertion of the modern aspects of life such as the vehicles, the technology, and even Marianne's asthma felt forced. They were necessary for the transition but poorly integrated. The motives for characters' behaviours felt insincere and the spirit of the narrative was lacklustre. It was difficult to care for these uninspiring characters and very difficult to read to the end of the novel. I have yet to get through the last few chapters, while rereading Austen is so rewarding.Trollope retold a story; she did not share a world nor did she inspire one to think about relationships and behaviours. When teaching the Austen text my students were deeply moved by how her characters could be seen in their peers, in their world because Austen's understanding of human nature was so meaningful. Trollope's characters are unconvincing and the world of her narrative lacks the verisimilitude for successful communication.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Keefer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It takes a skillful pen to transpose the characters and events in Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY to modern times. In this clever novel, Joanna Trollope captures the spirit of Austen's book. The characters seem true to their originals from the 1800's. Even when the characters check Facebook, email and tweet, they seem like themselves as we know them. Elinor's sensibility, Marianne's passion and impetuosity, and Willoughby's treachery haven't become obsolete.

What is enjoyable about this novel is to see Trollope's ingenuity in creating 21st century circumstances which parallel those in Austen's original book. It's also fun to see what happens if you put the Dashwood sisters - Elinor, Marianne and Margaret - into 201?. How would they act? What would they, their family, and friends do and say? If you are an anglophile (what Austen reader isn't?), this novel also provides insight into contemporary Britain.

Trollope seems to write with great glee when the more eccentric characters from SENSE AND SENSIBILITY come onto the scene: Mrs. Jennings the good-natured gossip, cheerful Charlotte and her curmudgeonly and comedic husband Tom, jovial Sir John Middleton, the gold-digging obnoxious Lucy Steele, party boy Robert Ferrars, and the wicked sister-in-law Fanny who is particularly wretched in the 21st century. You can concoct a lot of mischief with these traits in creating scenes. Ms. Trollope developed these secondary characters quite amusingly. Love the crowd scenes when theses characters come together and ignite.

The characters' repartee is often witty. The plot moves along steadily, and then ends with a flourish. I don't usually read Austen spin-offs as how can you improve on the original? Disappointment might ensue.
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