Genteel dinner parties at a stately manor and romantic walks through luxuriant Devonshire draw two attractive sisters into the manipulations of landed gentry determined to marry well. But neither sense nor sensibility can guarantee happiness for either.
(P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
I can't add more to what has already been said of this great classic early novel by Jane Austen. Times and customs certainly have changed since the early 19th century in England, but Austen's portrayal of human relationships comes through with a sharpness, wit and tenderness that can still engross the interest of a reader from the early 21st century. Nadia May's narration, as always, is faultless and brings each of the characters to life with a distinct voice.
To be fair, I have to admit that I had previously just listened to "pride & prejudice" and had found that to be a wonderful experience, both for the book itself and for the reader (irene sutcliffe).
I was a little disappointed in "sense & sensibility" on both counts. Nadia May insisted on giving the two main characters (Elinor & Marianne) girlish, high-pitched voices, which deterred me from taking them seriously as they deserved. That the book was written when Austen was very young is remarkable, and yet it does feel like the work of a very young writer, a little confusing and a little unsatisfying.
All in all, I was glad to hear it, and to get a deeper understanding of English life from nearly 2 centuries ago.
I found Nadia May's narration to be mediocre. Some of her female voices were in such a falsetto as to be annoying, but they were not predominant enough to ruin the audiobook. The quality of the recording was wanting. Perhaps this is only because all my other audiobooks are in the enhanced mode and this is not available in that mode.
This book contains my favorite AAM (Austen Awkward Moment) when poor Edward Farrers pays an ill-timed visit to the woman with whom he was in love, Miss Elinor Dashwood and found that the woman to whom he was engaged, Miss Lucy Steele was also visiting. One of course, should note that these are two separate women and also note they each knew the status of the other and did not like each other one little bit. This was a gloriously satisfying AAM. Poor Edmond, such an unlikely hero, shy, awkward, maybe even inelegant, not at all handsome but I like him. When the critical moment arrived, Edmond stood tall and manly.
Ours is a time of fast books; off with clothes and into bed then on to the next person. With the possible exceptions of P&P and Northanger Abbey, Austen novels are relatively slow. Except for the presence of children one would think nothing interesting ever happened outside the drawing or ball rooms. Oh yes, certain disgraceful activities are alluded to. Still, most of the action takes place in the mind and conversations; vital information is conveyed by letters and notes. Miss Austen often refers to novels and plays of the day to make social commentary or funny points. In Mansfield Park, there was a big fight over who was to play Agatha and Cecilla. Until one reads Lover's Vows by Mrs. Elizabeth Inchberg (nom de plume), a person just can't understand what the fight was about. To figure out Austen, works such as Regency Etiquette, Vanity Fair, and books by Fanny Burney, Mrs. Anne Radcliffe, with trips to the Shakespeare and Cowper sections of the library are helpful. Miss Austen can sure keep a body on his toes even after 200 years. Two other authors helped make Austen works real to me: Ms Pamela Aidon and Ms. Laurie Viera Rigler who clothed their extensive research in very enjoyable novels.
I truly am not a great fan of this type of literature, I guess. The stories of romances between the idle rich, whose incomes are bandied about like no other society, consume the lives of these people. And on and on it goes!
All that aside, this classic must be considered to have in one's library.
Good overcomes evil in the end but it does get confusing to listen to. Let's leave it at that.
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