Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

2.5 Star

John Dashwood promised his dying father that he would take care of his half sisters. But his wife, Fanny, has no desire to share their newly inherited estate with Belle Dashwood's daughters. When she descends upon Norland Park with her Romanian nanny and her mood boards, the three Dashwood girls-Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret-are suddenly faced with the cruelties of life without their father, their home, or their money.

As they come to terms with life without the status of their country house, the protection of the family name, or the comfort of an inheritance, Elinor and Marianne are confronted by the cold hard reality of a world where people's attitudes can change as drastically as their circumstances.

Kathryn - 2.5 Star

I had hoped to really enjoy this one but I’m afraid I didn’t really get much out of it.  I could appreciate that Trollope pulled from the original Jane Austen story line quite succinctly with a modern setting but none of the personalities came across the way Austen’s did for me.  I don’t remember the mother being quite so pathetic and the daughters didn’t have the same feel for me either.

I would never describe myself as a Jane Austen expert and I feel a bit guilty putting in my two cents worth of complaints so please take my mutterings with a grain of salt. From my memory though I think the girls’ updated personalities were taken a bit to the extreme.  Margaret, the youngest, used to be a bit of a tomboy and excitable but was never a brat as this Margaret comes across. While I can understand that a pre-teen today might be a bit more “mouthy” than in the 19th century she seemed to have lost her charm completely.  While Marianne’s physical limitations and dreamy personality are intact in Trollope’s interpretation she’s a lot more selfish that I remember and that might be simply because she appeared to need everyone’s undivided attention, all the time.  I empathise with the need to give Elinor a job- a way of supporting her family- but I thought if we can give Elinor a job then why not modernise the other women also?  Could Marianne, Margaret and Belle not have been given a purpose other than waiting around for someone else to do the work (perhaps with the exception of Margaret- as she is really still a child) and still maintain some of the original story? While many have found Trollope’s modernisation clear- I did not.

The main characters were over-exaggerated and the men were all a bit soppy or clearly not a good catch.  I have to admit though that I thought the supporting people- Sir John and his family, half-brother John (who throws them out of Norland) and his wife, mother in law etc were all very well represented and seemed to fit in with the original and this new version.

All in all I found the read a touch tedious and I wish I’d been more excited about this update- but Joanna Trollope is an excellent writer and has many successes under her belt – I’m sure this one will be loved by many despite my thoughts.

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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