Friday, May 11, 2018

Sense & Sensibility Read-Along | Discussion 1

Welcome to the first discussion of the Sense & Sensibility read-along! I'm excited to be reading this book with you, and I'm eager to hear your thoughts. :) If this is the first you've heard of the read-along, you can learn more about the schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss Volume I. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Sense & Sensibility read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up, you're welcome to check whenever you're ready.

Let's dive in!

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Sense & Sensibility: Volume I

Discussion Format: your favorite quotes, general impressions, and three questions to answer for each week's reading

Favorite Quotes

  • "It is enough;" said she, "to say that he is unlike Fanny is enough. It implies every thing amiable. I love him already." [LOL]
  • "At first sight, his address is certainly not striking; and his person can hardly be called handsome, till the expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived. At present, I know him so well, that I think him really handsome; or, at least, almost so."
  • "Colonel Brandon alone, of all the party, heard her without being in raptures. He paid her only the compliment of attention; and she felt a respect for him on the occasion."
  • "I am afraid," replied Elinor, "that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety."
  • "She dispersed her tears to smile on him, and in her sister's happiness forgot for a time her own disappointment."
  • "It is not every one," said Elinor, "who has your passion for dead leaves." [LOL]
  • "My loose cash would certainly be employed in improving my collection of music and books."
  • "What! you thought nobody could dance because a certain person that shall be nameless is gone!"

General Impressions

It's so fun to be engaged in another Jane Austen novel! So far, I'm really enjoying this one. I confess I have the actors from the 1995 adaptation (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and others) in my head; I believe that's the only movie version I've seen so far, and the acting was wonderful! It's easy to match the personalities between the movie and book.

One thing stands out to me as "better" in the movie (at least from what I've read in the book so far), and that's Margaret's role. The youngest sister seems barely present or even necessary to the story in the novel, but in the movie, I think she plays a really cute role. I guess it's because we can actually "see" her on screen, whereas she's hardly there on the pages. But I love the sort of brother-sister relationship she and Edward have in the movie. :)

Anyway, I should focus on the book!

I love how Marianne and Elinor really seem to get each other, even if they don't often agree and their methods/thoughts clash. Their sisterly bond is evident in how they care for each other's feelings and future happiness.

The Dashwoods' new home and the surrounding countryside sound lovely! Even though the company they're forced to keep is rather pushy and boisterous, I think it's nice that they've been so thoroughly welcomed and aren't ostracized.

As for the rest of the characters we've met so far... I liked Edward's first impressions, but I wish he were bolder, and what we're learning of him from Lucy (as much as she can be trusted to be honest about) doesn't paint him in a great light. He seems sweet, even in his interactions with the whole family, but his dour attitude, lack of ambition, and secrecy aren't always appealing.

What to say about Willoughby? It's hard to put aside what I know about him from the movie, but I can say that I don't like his careless ways toward others. He seems a bit like Frank Churchill (from Emma) in that regard, and he's encouraging an unkind, disrespectful side of Marianne. Also, the abrupt way he left the Dashwoods (with no real excuses) hardly seems promising.

Colonel Brandon hasn't revealed much of himself to readers, although I do love how (in contrast to Willoughby) it's noted that he cares about the feelings of others. He's perceptive and thoughtful, and even though he's been "rejected" by Marianne so far, he's not spiteful.

I'm eager to read more about the brewing drama, although I feel so bad for Elinor after her discussion with Lucy at the end of Volume I. I don't know if Lucy necessarily understands Elinor's feelings for Edward...but in any event, she's definitely behaving in a self-absorbed and melodramatic way, and I wish she would leave poor Elinor alone. Granted, if there really is an engagement and feelings on Lucy's part, I can understand her wanting to make clear her claims to Edward. But still...she's being very unkind about it, going on and on as she does, even if she's not intending to be unkind and doesn't realize the extent of Elinor's attachment.

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, or all three of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. So far, do you relate more to Elinor or Marianne? Do you find it more important to act properly and rationally, or do you prefer to speak your mind and express your true emotions?

2. Imagine you're invited to tea at Barton Park and have to make conversation with Sir and Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings. What would you talk about? How would you survive the afternoon? :) (Feel free to round out the imaginary occasion with other guests of your choosing, like Colonel Brandon, Willoughby, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, or the Miss Steeles.)

3. How would you respond to Lucy's revelations at the end of Volume I if you were Elinor? Would you keep Lucy's secret from everyone? Would you continue to remain "friends" with Lucy?

Join us next Friday for our second discussion! 
(Volume II)


Kendra E. Ardnek said...

So, well, I devoured S&S last week via LibriVox as research for a Jane Austen/Fairy Tale mash-up series that I've decided to write.

(Those quotes are all awesome. Especially the dead leaves one. *jots it down for future use*)

Yeah, I'm also very disappointed in how little presence Margaret has, especially since I'd just come off reading Kelsey Bryant's depression retelling, where the Margeret character also has a larger presence.

I also feel a bit underwhelmed by the love interests. I remind myself that this was Jane's first major novel, and she probably didn't have the strongest grip on male characters yet??? But, yeah.

Anywho, onto the questions:

1. I'm Marianne, and my younger sister's my Elinor. That sister dynamic is so awesome.

2. I'd probably edge the conversation into a discussion about my writing, just so we have something sensible to talk about.

3. I'd probably behave like Elinor. Keeping other people's secrets is important to me, and well, if she has prior claim... I want Edward to be happy. And not revert back to being a frog. *wait, what?*

Julie said...

Hey Amber,

I'm having a hard time getting into S&S. I really like the movie, and have read the book before, but am feeling a bit distracted with this reading. But here is my post on my blog:

Love the quotes you picked! Looking forward to next weeks discussion.

Julie @ My Favorite Pastime

Miranda Atchley said...

Love the quotes you chose! Even though they're so different, I love how close Elinor and Marianne are. It's one of the reasons I love this book so much. Hope you're enjoying the book so far! :-)

Amber Holcomb said...


That's awesome that you're planning Jane Austen/fairy-tale mashup! How fun! :D

(Isn't that dead leaves quote too funny? I could wax poetic about autumn and dead leaves too, but I love Elinor's observation, haha!)

It is disappointing that Margaret is barely involved in the story. But it's neat to know that the Suit & Suitability retelling gives her a bigger role! I'm also in agreement about the "underwhelming" impression of the heroes in Sense & Sensibility. While I do like Colonel Brandon so far, he hasn't really done a whole lot or given the reader much to go on. Alas! Great point about this being Jane's first published work, though. :)

Fun responses to the discussion questions! Thanks for sharing. And such a great teaser for your fairy-tale version! ;)


Amber Holcomb said...


Aw, that's a bummer! But totally understandable. I think when we read a book can have a fairly big impact on how much we enjoy it. I hope you still enjoy the last two volumes! And I'm selfishly glad you're still participating in the read-along; it means a lot, and it's always so fun to read your thoughts! I'll stop by your blog soon to leave a comment! :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you! :) And yes, it's so neat to see the bond between Marianne and Elinor, despite their very different approaches to life. I'm definitely enjoying the book so far, and I'm looking forward to reading and discussing more!