29 March, 2015

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility

From GoodreadsFrom one of the most insightful chroniclers of family life working in fiction today comes a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen's classic novel of love, money, and two very different sisters
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.
With her sparkling wit, Joanna Trollope casts a clever, satirical eye on the tales of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Reimagining Sense and Sensibility in a fresh, modern new light, she spins the novel's romance, bonnets, and betrothals into a wonderfully witty coming-of-age story about the stuff that really makes the world go around. For when it comes to money, some things never change. . . .

Thoughts: "The Austen Project is a major new series of six novels teaming up authors of global literary significance with Jane Austen's six completed works." (Source: The Austen Project)
Those who have read my blog for awhile know that I am relatively new to Austen. I find the classics hard going, but think I may have finally cracked them. To date I have read Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Dare I say that I've even enjoyed them! So when I heard about the Austen Project I was fairly sure I'd give them a go at some point.
Working in a library has it's advantages. When I spotted Joanna Trollope's Sense and Sensibility on an overloaded shelf, right where I needed to put a book, it seemed like the universe telling me now was the time. So I borrowed it.
I've never read Trollope before so I can't compare this to her other works. What I can say is this had the potential to be a complete and utter mess and it wasn't. It wasn't brilliant either, but I think Trollope made the best of a difficult situation. To take the story set in Austen's era where women really had few if any marketable skills and your best hope was to land a good husband and translate it to today was never going to be easy. It's difficult to swallow that a household of 4 women (or 3 women and a teenager) today would find they had no skills or prospects. And that I think is where this book struggled. A good love story is a good love story no matter when it's set. Trying to stick to the original premise that a good marriage was Elinor and Marianne's only hope was a little harder to sell. 
Many of the reviews I've seen of this have panned the book, and I can understand why. I enjoyed it and found it interesting to compare to the original. However it had definite short comings. Read it if you wish, but if you are an Austen purist, prepare to be disappointed.

Sense and Sensibility  gets 2 stars 

 *        Did not like it
**       It was OK
***      Liked it
****    Really liked it
*****   It was amazing