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A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility Paperback – December 27, 2013
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About the Author
Kaitlin Saunders is proficient on the works of Jane Austen and finds that literature written by Austen serves to give her inspiration. At age sixteen, Saunders began her literary career writing her first screenplay, titled "Caroline," later bringing this period piece to life. She directed and produced this film, which gained popularity after being aired on local television. Her first novel, A Modern Day Persuasion, was published in 2011. Saunders and her husband enjoy cuddling up with their children and watching BBC as a family.
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The book is filled with such redundancies. Saunders' immaturity as a writer shows when she can't just say, "she said," and let the surrounding dialog speak for itself. In fact, Saunders has a poor grasp of grammar and syntax that make for awkward reading. For instance, "Wow that's fantastic" Ellie congratulated. Redundant. Or worse yet, "she strived on that disallowance." What does that even mean?
And then there are the misplaced modifiers sprinkled throughout, sometimes causing the reader to (unintentionally) laugh out loud. "Marianne quickly looked up at the stranger with bright eyes and a speechless tongue." And of course, there are the malapropisms, such as "Contriving gold digger" when of course she meant conniving.
The worst mistake Saunders made was trying to fit Austen's 19th century story into the 21st century without making any modifications. Diane had legal resources, because a wife can't just be cut out of the estate, even if there's no will. Marianne is 18, still a teenager, and yet her mother is eager for her to get engaged and married. What parent in today's world wants that? Marianne sinks into depression and anorexia when Willoughby dumps her, and no one thinks to take her to a doctor. If they didn't have health insurance, that would have been a reasonable explanation in the modern world. But the worst thing is Willoughby impregnating Brandon's 15 year old foster daughter. That's not him just being a cad, it's child molestation. How did he not get arrested? In fact, a case could be made for Jim being a pedophile, because he goes after Marianne who is barely of legal age, shortly after his affair with an underage minor. And soon we have newly mature, 19 year old Marianne marrying a 38 year old man. That's not romantic, that's perverted. I kept wishing for a twist in the story putting Ellie and Brandon together, but there were no surprises anywhere. When Ellie pines over Edward who's engaged (and how does one keep something like that off social media in today's world?), most modern women would go out on the town with their girlfriends for a night of drinking and man bashing. Ellie just sinks into her own depression.
I gave the book 2 stars because I somewhat enjoyed the story. But then again, it's Jane Austen's story. May I recommend a much better modern-day version of Sense and Sensibility, Certainly Sensible
I kept waiting for something sparkling to happen, but in the end it was just about finding out how the author chose to set the story and characters in modern times. There were no 'aha!' moments, nothing especially clever or enlightening. I had higher hopes for this book, but it was just... 'Hmm... Interesting.'
A round of applause to Kaitlin Saunders for stepping up to the challenge of modernizing Sense and Sensibility, which in my opinion, is one of the most daunting of Jane Austen’s novels to modernize! So many of the situations and conflicts in this novel do not have the same significance or consequences in our contemporary world as they did in Jane Austen’s. Engaged to a girl you are no longer in love with? (break up with her, it won’t cause a scandal!) About to be disinherited by your wealthy aunt? (get a job, stop being lazy!) I commend Kaitlin Saunders for taking on such a challenging feat!
My favorite scenes in this adaptation, and where I felt Ms. Saunders’ talents truly shine, were the scenes that illustrate the close bond the Dashwood women have with each other. How Mrs. Dashwood lets Ellie know she is there for her (when she sees that Ellie still hasn’t heard from Edward), how Ellie always shows Marianne such care and consideration (even though she can be pretty exasperating), how Ellie mourns the loss their closeness when Willoughby starts to create a rift in their relationship – all made this novel heartfelt and uplifting. In addition, it was inspiring to witness how these four women were able to start their lives anew, overcome their obstacles, and heal from their grief together.
A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility is a very straightforward adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Kaitlin Saunders meticulously adheres to the original plot and characters – you won’t find too many surprising twists here! Part of me thought it was very respectful of Kaitlin Saunders to write such an accurate and faithful update, but at the same time, another part of me wished for some new scenes, clever recreations, and creative insights. One scene I was hoping to see updated and (dare I say it?) improved from Jane Austen’s novel was a scene where Brandon declares himself and proposes to Marianne (which we don’t see happen in Jane Austen’s novel!). But alas, we again don’t see it happen! In fact, we go right from Edward and Ellie getting engaged to the double wedding…it definitely felt like there was a scene missing.
One aspect of this novel that didn’t sit right with me was the fact that Marianne was eighteen. I’m not sure if it was because Brandon was in his thirties, or because everyone seemed to be perfectly fine with the idea of Marianne becoming engaged and married at such a young age, or both…I know Marianne is only sixteen in Jane Austen’s novel, I know that it isn’t unheard of for people to get engaged and married at the age of eighteen, and that the age differences of ten plus years isn’t too shocking…but I guess when you put it all together Marianne’s situation felt a little too far removed and atypical.
Despite my quibbles, I’m so happy to have read this lovely adaptation by Kaitlin Saunders. I enjoyed my time with her lovely characters and her authentic renderings. Looking forward to reading her first release, A Modern Day Persuasion (2011) next!