(Review) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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Publisher and Publication Date: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group. 2015. First published in three volumes in 1811.
Genre: Fiction. Women and literature. 
Pages: 357.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen.
Rating: Excellent.







Amazon link 

Further links:
Britannica on the book itself
Britannica on Jane Austen
Jane Austen Biograph
Jane Austen Society of North America
BBC History 

This is the third time I’ve read this book. The cover of the book is not my favorite.

Summary:
Early nineteenth century England.
Mr. Henry Dashwood died leaving a wife and three daughters without a secure financial future. His son, John Dashwood, from a first marriage became the inheritor of the estate. The family continued to all live together in the estate in Sussex for several months. During the period of time when all the family is living at the estate, John Dashwood’s brother-in-law came to visit. His name is Edward Ferrars. Edward and Marianne became friends and an attachment developed between them. Edward’s sister is not pleased. It had already been difficult with all of them living together, but the time came when it was unbearable. A relative of the widow, Mrs. Henry Dashwood, offered the women a small cottage in Devonshire. The women left Sussex and began a new life in Devonshire.

The three sisters are Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret.
Elinor is nineteen. She has a calm and quiet demeanor. She is cautious, level-headed, a peacemaker, and prudent.
Marianne is sixteen. She has a passionate personality. She is an emotional person and those emotions at times overtake wisdom.
Margaret is thirteen. She is more like Marianne than Elinor. Her personality is still developing.

My Thoughts:
Sense and Sensibility is my favorite of Jane Austen’s works.
The main reason I love this story is it is four women (one a child) who come to terms with the sad events of their life and create a new life for themselves.
A second reason is I love the sisterly relationship. I have two older sisters who I am close to. The three of us have different personalities. We don’t always agree. Sometimes we have misunderstandings. Yet, we love each other and we’re completely devoted to one another.
The romantic interests of the two older sisters is a strong storyline, but it is not a reason this is a favorite story to me.
I’ve read various readers pronounce Marianne’s final love choice as terrible. They think she settled. So much we don’t know about Marianne’s final romantic decision. However, she experienced some things that brought about a different perspective. The different perspective gave her a new perception and realization about love.
Romantic love doesn’t always look, progress, or settle in the places we expect. I’m guilty of having the thought, “love must look like this.” Especially when I was young. Sometimes we see what we want to see. We also see with a vision that can be obscured.
I’ve been both Elinor and Marianne. I can relate to both women. This is another reason I love this story. As a woman, I can identify with the heroines.
I was reminded (while reading this story) at how much thought and energy women spend wondering what men are thinking. Why men say or don’t say certain things? And, why do women wait for men? I’ve known women wait many years for a marriage proposal. I know one woman who waited 15 years!




(Review) A Portrait of Jane Austen by David Cecil

Publisher and Publication Date: Hill and Wang/a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1979.
Genre: Nonfiction. History of Jane Austen and her era. Women and literature.
Pages: 208.
Source: Self purchase.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link

Summary:
David Cecil explains this book is not intended to be an analysis of Jane Austen’s life nor of the history of that era. It is meant to show her life through illustrations, letters, writings, and biographical information from family.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this book.
It’s an inexpensive hard cover book with illustrations throughout. Some of the illustrations are of the Austen family, copies of Jane’s letters and works, drawings made by the family, the homes they lived in, and other included history.
I learned about the Austen family. Jane’s grandparents and parents, siblings, and their families.
I learned about how Jane’s ill health in the final years had an effect on her writings.
Jane Austen was a creative genius. Her stories were not all the same, but with differing developments and expressions.
She was not afraid to branch out to something new. For example the last work, Sanditon. Sanditon was left unfinished because of her failing health, but it showed remarkable difference from previous works.
At times though, Jane Austen was not a confident writer.
I feel A Portrait of Jane Austen is a more personal study. The letters and biography information give the book an intimate quality.

(Review) Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

Publisher and Publication Date: Vintage Books. 1999.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography. Women and literature.
Pages: 347.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen.
Rating: Very good.

Several black and white illustrations are included.

Amazon link

I have reader friends who’ve told me they are not a Darcy fan. I have reader friends who’ve told me they’ve never read a Jane Austen story. When I hear these things I’m not offended. I believe that books are personal choices; and, my choice is not necessarily another person’s choice.

How do I feel about Jane Austen? I am a fan of Jane Austen. I love reading about Jane Austen. I love Jane Austenesque stories. I have read most of her novels and a few of them are favorites.

Several months ago I began reading Jane Austenesque stories. Add to this, I have read two of Austen’s unfinished novels that were finished by modern authors. These reasons have led me to feel compelled to read and study Jane Austen. I want to learn about her writing style and technique, the Regency period, her family, and the everyday life she lived.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin is the fourth book I’ve read in this personal study.
I’ve also read:
1. Jane Austen, Bloom’s BioCritiques by Harold Bloom.
2. The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility by Natalie Tyler, with contributions from Jon Winokur and Reid Boates.
3. Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Jane Austen by Carol J. Adams, Douglas Buchanan, Kelly Gesch.

Several others are in a TBR stack:
~The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne
~Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson
~The Cambridge Companion Guide to Jane Austen by Edward Copeland
~Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye
All links take you to Goodreads.

In Jane Austen: A Life, Tomalin examines all the Austen family. None of them are placed under the microscope, but they are explored through their letters, and personal choices in marriages, family, and careers. Chapter two goes back to Jane’s grandparents.
In Jane’s early life, she was sent to a village woman to be cared for and nursed until she was of age to live at home. This seems odd to our modern view, but during this era it was common. However, Tomalin wonders how this might have effected Jane?
Most of Jane’s letters were destroyed by family. We can only speculate why. In addition, the family was discreet about what they shared and passed down through the generations. A brother and a nephew remarked Jane lived an, “ordinary life.” Later in the book it is stated the family were reserved people. As a Jane Austen fan, I want to read at least a morsel of her showing not necessarily imperfections, but at least a realness of her person. It is easy to wonder if the family was reserved or trying to protect Jane’s image. Both are possibilities. After Jane’s father died and she moved to other housing, there is a glimpse she may have been depressed. Tomalin only explains this is a possibility.
Jane Austen: A Life is a little dry. This point didn’t take away from devouring the book.

Final thoughts:
~I love it that Jane read her writings to family.
~I love it that Jane tried different techniques in writing stories.
~In Appendix one, I thought it was interesting to read about the different illnesses that may have caused Jane’s death.
~I love reading about Cassandra’s love and devotion to Jane.
~It is sad how people of this period treated those with disabilities. Each proceeding generation looks back on previous generations with a different perspective. I have often wondered what people 100 years from now will say about us? What will be our legacy?

(Review) The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Jane Austen by Carol Adams, Douglas Buchanan, and Kelly Gesch

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Publisher and Publication Date: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2008.
Genre: Nonfiction. Jane Austen. Regency Period. Women and Literature. Biography.
Pages: 240.
Source: Library paperback copy.
Audience: Jane Austen readers. Biography and history readers.
Rating: Good.

Amazon link

 

 

Summary:
If you are new to Jane Austen. If you haven’t read Jane Austen stories in a long time. This book is a good companion piece to become reacquainted with her works.

Examples of chapters:
“The Importance of a Good Carriage”
“The Clergy in Austen’s Fiction”
“On Reading Jane Austen”
“Jane Austen at the Movies”

All of Austen’s books have a chapter. The Watsons and Lady Susan share a chapter.

Illustrations are scattered throughout the book. They are all in black and white.

My Thoughts:
Don’t buy the book. If you can find it at the library do so. If you can find the book on discount as an ebook, this too is a great idea.
It’s a quick read.
It’s a book that can be used as a reference.
It’s not necessary to read it cover to cover.
The chapters are short.

What’s notable: An interesting essay on Willoughby (male character in Sense and Sensibility) as a sociopath.

(Review) Sanditon by Jane Austen and Kate Riordan

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Publisher and Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Austenesque.
Pages: 400.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.

Based on Andrew Davies’ tv adaption/continuation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel written in 1817.
As seen on Masterpiece PBS, premiered January 12, 2020.

The foreword is written by Andrew Davies. He is a Welsh author of screenplays and books. He has adapted several books to film. For example: Pride and Prejudice (1995), Vanity Fair (1998), and War and Peace (2016), Sanditon (2020).

Link for more information at the publisher

Link at Amazon

Link at Barnes and Noble

Author Info: 
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an
editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor
for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had
assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in
London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly)
during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer,
she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her
first novel.

Summary: 
In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished
masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a
spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series.
Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the
joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky
relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker.
When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to
the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the
intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters
whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the
plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London,
exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover
herself… and ultimately find love.

My Thoughts:
I first want to say how excited I am to be apart of the book tour for Sanditon. I enjoyed reading the book, rereading (multiple times) the original chapters Jane Austen wrote, The World of Sanditon by Sara Sheridan, and watching the PBS Masterpiece series Sanditon.
The original writing of Sanditon by Jane Austen is twelve chapters. She began writing in January 1817, and stopped writing March 18, 1817. She died July 18, 1817. The manuscript she wrote was not only unfinished, but had not shown enough material to understand the full direction she intended the story to take. It is a guess. She was sick during the writing. Health is a theme in the original manuscript. The book presents Austen’s first character of another race. She is described in the original writing as a West Indian heiress in poor health. The story shows a modern attitude that previous writings did not. However, Jane Austen did not finish the story, and it’s only a guess about how we think the book would progress and end.
I consider the original writing of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, as an outline for the tv adaption and book. In the book by Kate Riordan, it does not follow the exact manuscript of Austen’s. Austen’s has been used as an outline. And this current book is an adaption. I was constantly aware during the reading of the current book of the differences between what had been written by Austen and the changes in the new book. I had to finally place that developing attitude aside and enjoy the adaption.
The story begins in 1819. The main character is Charlotte Heywood. She is the oldest child in a large family. She is in her late teens. They are country people. Charlotte is a personality that I cherish. She is responsible, kind, quick to help others, observant, and a bit restless for adventure. A chance encounter gives her an opportunity to leave the home and area she’d known, and experience another type of life. Through her eyes, I too experienced the adventure. She has another character trait: speaking her mind. At times, this causes people to be offended. But, I believe this makes her well-rounded, imperfect, and believable. Characters shouldn’t be too perfect!
Other characters have sharp contrasts to the likable Charlotte. They are the wealthy Lady Denham. She also speaks her mind. Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. Both of them are calculating.
Other characters like the Parker family are the benefactor of Charlotte’s travel and lodging during her visit to Sanditon. Sidney Parker is the person who Charlotte either likes or dislikes depending on their conversations. He perplexes her.
Georgiana Lambe is the wealthy West Indian heiress. She is another favorite character.
Primarily because she seems sad and I want her to be happy.
The story is strong in characters that leap off the pages and that is a plus for me.
I especially enjoyed reading the thoughts behind the characters that the tv adaption does not reveal.
I love the developing story that showed me the plight of several characters. Health is not a big plot like in the original Austen manuscript. Money and status is a big theme.
The conflicts in the story are conflicts that people of any era relate. For example, betrayal and ambition.
The book ends with the wish (on my part) for more of the story.