Set in the early 19th century Regency Era- the same time period in which Austen lived- Sense and Sensibility depicts the relationship and characterization of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. The plot of the novel is set up by the unfortunate death of their father, which due to the inheritance system of the time, meant that the entirety of his property would go to the son of his previous marriage instead of his daughters. The rest of the story unfolds as readers follow the sisters in their pursuit of marriage, as it would be the only way for the Dashwoods to secure a comfortable, financially stable living.
Throughout the novel, the sisters share similar encounters of falling in love and prospects of marriage, though experienced in vastly different ways. The novel is written from the point of view of Elinor, who is characterized as being highly sensible. She is practical and prudent, and her romantic relationship mirrors her conduct. In contrast, Marianne is known for her display of sensibility; unlike Elinor, her path of love is strongly based on passion.
For much of the novel, Austen appears to be in the favor of prioritizing sense over sensibility, yet by the end, it becomes clear to both the protagonists and readers that it is important to have a balance of both in order to lead a happy life.
Beyond the plot of the novel, Austen also provides insightful social commentary on topics, such as classism and the agency of women of the 1800s.
Another highlight of the novel is Austen’s famous style of writing. The tone of her narration is witty and conversational so that, despite the novel being written centuries ago, Austen is able to transcend time and have even the modern reader understand her implications.
Overall, because of its lovable characters, charming plot, and Austen’s clever writing, I highly recommend this book.