Monday, February 17, 2014

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility  by Joanna Trollope

This is the first Trollope I've read.  If this is a good example of her work, I don't think I'm a fan.  I'm a big fan of Jane Austen and her characters in the original Sense and Sensibility.  Not just the Dashwood women (Fanny excluded).  

This is a modernization of the Austen classic.  Sadly, it leached the narrative of the humanity and charm of the original.  The happy ending sugar coated a lot of my disdain and distaste of this version.  But, it definitely wasn't enough. 

I found none of Austen's charm here.  Trollope takes away all of the good in Sir John and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jenkins.  Willoughby is a tragic character in the original.  Sure, he breaks Marianne's heart, but he's mostly his own enemy.  Here, he's nefarious, leaving a trail of drug addled women in his wake.
The characters in the original are so much more multifaceted and three dimensional than in Trollope's reimagining.  This should not be anyone's first/only take on Sense and Sensibility.  I was so disappointed as these beloved characters were turned into two dimensional cardboard cutouts of the people who I so enjoyed in so many other versions of this story.  

If you are looking to spend time with the Dashwoods, read the Austen classic and watch Emma Thompson's wonderful movie version. If you want a modern take, try Cathleen Schine's The Three Weissman's of Westport.  She managed to keep the charm of the original, never losing sight of the fact that even antagonists, or villains, are all evil. They are all human and everything that entails.  Any author retelling this story should be aware of this.  I think Trollope only likes Elinor. Everyone else got an old school baddy black hat in her treatment of the story.  I found that short sighted and unnecessary.


guiltlessreader said...

I didn't like this one either. I think retellings are an iffy proposition to begin with!

JoanneMarie Faust said...

I read this after reading your review. I think that you should definitely watch the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet movie and then enjoy every moment of the original. Jane Austen and Emma Thompson are much kinder to the characters than Trollope.