I guess it was about a year ago now that I re-read Sense and Sensibility,. As I do, I went to goodreads to see what the popular reviews were saying. Most were pretty predictable Austen reviews, but one in particular snagged my attention. It made me so angry, and I’m still thinking about it a year later.
I’m keeping the author of the review anonymous, obviously, and I’m only going to quote here a small portion of the review. If you want to read more you’ll have to do your own digging on goodreads.
Reading Sense and Sensibility made me realize why I don’t like Jane Austen’s books, and probably never will: she was a brilliant author, and her novels are funny and well-written, but at the end of the day, her characters spend 90% of their time talking about boys. Nothing else happens: they go to a ball, where they worry about which boy isn’t dancing with them; they have tea, where they talk about which girls have snagged which boys; and they write letters about which girls have done scandalous things with boys. It’s just pages and pages of “I like you but you hate me!” “No, I really love you, you were just misinformed!” “My, what a silly misunderstanding!” “I agree! Let’s get married!” and all its variations and it bores me to death. I love the humor, and I love the characters, I just want them to do something interesting. This is probably why Pride and Prejudice and Zombies resonated so well with me – finally, the Bennett sisters got to do something besides sit around and mope about the various boys who weren’t talking to them for whatever reason!
- If you don’t like Jane Austen’s novels (or as she says at the beginning of her review, romantic comedies), then why are you reading one?
- Saying nothing else in this book happens other than they talk about boys is a gross exaggeration and just plain not true. The very first thing to happen, for example, is their father dies and they are forced out of their home before they are even done mourning him.
- Even if that was true and nothing else happens except for boy stuff, it is unfair to place your 21st century expectations for a novel on a book written in the early 19th century.
This third point is the one I want to talk about today. Continue reading