Muse's Books (muse_books) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Muse's Books

Books 42-43: Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope (2013) and Jane Austen (1811)

Book 42: Sense and Sensibility (The Austen Project #1).
Author: Joanna Trollope, 2013.
Genre: Chick-Lit. Coming-of-Age. Relationship Drama.
Other Details: Hardback. 362 pages.

Two sisters could hardly be more different. Elinor Dashwood, an architecture student, values discretion above all. Her impulsive sister Marianne displays her creativity everywhere as she dreams of going to art school. But when the family finds itself forced out of Norland Park, their beloved home for twenty years, their values are severely put to the test. Can Elinor remain stoic knowing that the man she likes has been ensnared by another girl? Will Marianne’s faith in love be shaken by meeting the hottest boy in the county? And when social media is the controlling force at play, can love ever triumph over conventions and disapproval?

Joanna Trollope casts 'Sense & Sensibility' in a fresh new light, re-telling a coming-of-age story about young love and heartbreak, and how when it comes to money especially, some things never change…
- synopsis from author's website.

Near the end of the novel Mrs Dashwood says to a friend: You're like those nineteenth-century novels where marriage is the only career option for a middle-class girl." Her friend responds: "Just like you, then, my dear. You and me both. People pretend things have changed, but have they really?" It's a knowing wink in the direction of the reader and gives some indication of the task that faced Joanna Trollope in re-visioning Jane Austen's classic 200 years on. The novel is part of the Austen Project, sponsored by Harper Collins, and is the first of Austen's novels to be re-imagined for the 21st Century by a world renowned author.

Joanna Trollope is obviously deeply familiar with the original Sense and Sensibility. She stated "This is a project which requires consummate respect above all else; not an emulation, but a tribute." In some ways Trollope shows that things haven't changed all that much and a few of the characters reminded me of the young entitled lads and lasses on the UK reality show Made in Chelsea. Yet in other respects there have been huge changes and not just in terms of technology and social media; the most obvious of these for the novel was the position of women in society, sexual mores and less rigidity in class divisions.

I feel that Trollop did a good job, especially in capturing the essence of the original story and updating the dialogue without losing its essence. I enjoyed the novel even though the modern setting didn't quite work for me and the satirical aspects of the original were not so obvious. However, reading it made me want to return to the original in order to compare and contrast them.

The Austen Project website.

Book 43: Sense and Sensibility.
Author: Jane Austen, 1811. Introduction by Joanne Trollope, 2013.
Genre: Classic. Comedy of Manners.
Other Details: Hardback. 480 pages.

Where Elinor governs her emotions, Marianne unleashes hers – so when their father's untimely demise forces a stark change of circumstance for the two Dashwood sisters, they react quite differently. To add to the shock they are forced to accept diminished rank and the loss of their home. Now, with nothing but their respective prudence and passion to recommend them, how will each sister cope with falling in love in a society where marriage and status are one?And when Marianne follows her heart with abandon, can Elinor forget hers? - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

As expected the original Sense and Sensibility trumped Joanne Trollope's updated version though I was glad that picking up Trollope's novel inspired me to re-read Austen after many years. Again, I found that my viewing of various adaptations had distorted my memory some and was glad to reacquaint myself with the source.

This edition, also produced by Harper Collins, has a matching cover to Joanna Trollope's re-telling and contains an introduction written by her as well as the opening chapter of her 2013 Sense and Sensibility, reviewed above. I was glad of this as the introduction helped me appreciate her approach and also reading that first chapter I could see how she'd updated the language for 21st Century.

I do feel some readers might find the style of the original a little stilted especially the formal language. It wasn't an issue for me and throughout I found Austen's wit and observation of the society remained a delight. My intention is to read all the novels produced by The Austen Project as well as the originals.
Tags: bildungsroman/coming of age, british, chicklit, classic

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