I found Sense and Sensibility on the new release shelf at the library. I am familiar with Joanna Trollope’s name, but I don’t think I have read any of her other books. The title intrigued me: Sense and Sensibility is another of Jane Austen’s great novels. I didn’t mean to go on an Austen fanfiction bender; it just sort of happened.
Trollope has taken the characters from Sense and Sensibility out of the Regency, and deposited them directly into modern day England. The story is virtually the same, except the characters have access to technology; barouches and earnest letters have been replaced with Aston Martins and text messages. If you are unfamiliar with the story, I’ll offer a brief spoiler-free summary. The Dashwood family have lived at Norland Park, a grand home, for their entire lives. When Mr. Dashwood passes away, his three girls find out that the home has passed to their older half brother, from Mr. Dashwood’s first marriage. John had promised his father that he would provide for his sisters, and that Mrs. Dashwood and the girls could stay in Norland Park. But John’s scheming wife Fanny has other plans. Fanny is a social climber, and has Great Aspirations for Norland Park- none of which involve four unwelcome permanent guests. The Dashwoods have nowhere to go, but Sir John Middleton, a distant relative, offers up Barton Cottage in Devonshire. The Dashwoods find Devonshire and the Middleton’s circle of friends to be amicable company. Of course, with two eligible Dashwoods (the third is still in school), there are bound to be suitors. And with suitors, comes drama, of course!
The story is not meant to be taken literally. There are numerous examples throughout the text, where a plot point seems a little too anachronistic. There are even jokes amongst the characters about how it is not 1810, and there is no need for such behavior; they do seem a little too stilted and passive for modern life. But somehow, it just works. Trollope has given us a charming tribute to Jane Austen, and the modern adaptation puts a satirical spin on a classic tale.
If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, this new version of Sense and Sensibility is a treat. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and the experience has renewed my interest in the original.
If you’d like to find out more about this book, you can do so here:
Sense & Sensibility