Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite Jane Austen books. It has all the wonderful, and awful, experiences about Girls Who Love – secrets, love-sickness, cattiness, anxiousness, disappointment, and camaraderie.
This year Sense and Sensibility celebrates its 200th anniversary and I couldn’t wait to re-read it.
If you’ve forgotten Sense and Sensibility then here’s a brief reminder: two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, appear to be cast off by the young men they love. One sister responds stoically, and the other, is an emotional mess.
(I did say brief.)
So as I’m re-reading this story, I noticed I wasn’t seeing the story through Elinor’s eyes (she’s the one with Sense) or through Marianne’s (she’s the drama queen).
No, this time I was reading the book while looking over their mother’s shoulder, Mrs. Dashwood, and noticing, with a lot of frustration, all the clues she missed about her daughter’s love interests.
Here are some clues Jane Austen gave Mrs. Dashwood that her daughters’ first boyfriends didn’t pass the whiff test.
- Your daughter fills in the blanks. Edward, Elinor’s chosen young man, is mysteriously quiet on a number of details about his past. Mrs. Dashwood, Marianne and Elinor decide this is shyness. Nope. He’s hiding a fiancée.
- She blows off her friends. Marianne and Willoughby decide to ride off in the carriage by themselves. The rest of the crew are left by the side of the road whistling Dixie. Okay, it’s the English countryside and Dixie wasn’t a tune yet, but you get the idea. Always a bad move when your daughter abandons her friends for the boy.
- She makes excuses for him. Marianne’s beau, Willoughby, is in London while she is visiting with the elderly Mrs. Jennings. However, Willoughby is not coming over to see Marianne. She blames the weather, his friends, and the messenger. Although Mama Dashwood is getting her updates via letters from Elinor, she really should have been on high alert at this point.
- She hangs around the house in case he stops over. Again, Marianne just can’t help herself. She hovers at the window waiting to see either Willoughby or a messenger. I won’t blame Mrs. Dashwood for this one, but her stand-in, Mrs. Jennings, pooh-poohs Marianne’s obsession instead of hosting an intervention.
- The boyfriend has a name like . . . Willoughby. Helloooooo
Of course, I shouldn’t be too harsh on Mrs. Dashwood - the lady was newly widowed. However, I do think I’ll wait for another re-reading. Maybe the next time around, I’ll see the story through Mrs. Jenning’s eyes and we can be in agreement that heartbreak is cured with “sweetmeats and olives”.
What about you? Have you ever re-read a favorite book and been surprised to see the story through a different perspective?