Friday, 13 January 2017

Sense & Sensibility (The Austen Project no. 1) by Joanna Trollope

Publication date: 29th October 2013
Published by: Harper

Publisher's synopsis
John Dashwood promised his dying father that he would take care of his half sisters. But his wife, Fanny, has no desire to share their newly inherited estate with Belle Dashwood's daughters. When she descends upon Norland Park with her Romanian nanny and her mood boards, the three Dashwood girls-Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret-are suddenly faced with the cruelties of life without their father, their home, or their money.

As they come to terms with life without the status of their country house, the protection of the family name, or the comfort of an inheritance, Elinor and Marianne are confronted by the cold hard reality of a world where people's attitudes can change as drastically as their circumstances.

With her sparkling wit, Joanna Trollope casts a clever, satirical eye on the tales of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Reimagining Sense and Sensibility in a fresh, modern new light, she spins the novel's romance, bonnets, and betrothals into a wonderfully witty coming-of-age story about the stuff that really makes the world go around. For when it comes to money, some things never change. . . .

My review:

Joanna Trollope's modern day version of Sense & Sensibility has a plot that runs parallel to the original, while being a story in it's own right.  It is cleverly constructed and completely believable, which is quite an achievement considering the period and setting of the original source material. I would say this book is (so far) the most successful of the project in that regard.

Belle Dashwood had become far too comfortable with a life of luxury without contributing in any way, so when her common-law husband dies and she is left homeless and penniless, she is in denial.  It falls on her eldest daughter, Elinor, to do what is necessary to try to secure a home, to clothe and feed the family.  She does so at personal sacrifice, all the while nursing a broken heart.

This novel cannot help but read like chick-lit, albeit intelligent and sophisticated chick-lit (a sub-genre I am convinced evolved from the Jane Austen novel).  This is something I would say it has in common with all but one of the Austen project publications so far. Val McDermids' Northanger Abbey is the exception as it reads more like a coming of age tale. 

More Austen Project reviews

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid (no.2)

Emma by Alexander McCall-Smith (no 3)

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (n0.4)

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