Tuesday, March 9, 2010
How do you take a book that is almost 200 years old and make it interesting and new to the modern reader? That's a trick question, I can't imagine not enjoying Jane Austen's writing no matter how antiquated the society and its ideals are. Of course I took as many literature classes in college as time allowed so I may be an exception to the rule.
The story itself? The cast of characters is impressive; you've got the calm introvert, the passionate young thing, the rake, the snob, the neighbors you roll your eyes at whenever they show up, the man of integrity, etc. And the plotlines are almost as thick as the characters! Frivolity and fun, true love, desperate, gut-wrenching heartbreak, intrigue and secrets, scandal, mix-ups, horrible nasty people you want to punch in the nose (I know I'm not the only one who thought that.)
I've made it a personal project to read all of Austen and this was my third foray and probably my favorite to read - which surprised me because as absolutely wonderful as Edward and Col. Brandon are, I don't swoon over them like Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley. Not to sound smarmy about it but I think it did have to do with the "insights" in my margin.
The book has a pictographic key so the notes in your margin are categorized by things like historical and cultural details, film references, themes of faith, Austen facts and tidbits, and comments and asides as well as frowny face and smiley face comments. As much as I LOVE tidbits and asides in all categories what I really enjoyed were the smiley and frowney faces - it was like reading the book with a friend who hated the same parts you hated and loved, laughed and smiled at all your favorite places.
(I got quite the laugh out of the film reference which stated: In the 2008 miniseries, Edward's bad mood leads him to chop wood in the pouring rain. The film was written by the same person who had Darcy jump in a lake. We approve of both.
And yes I did run out and rent the 2008 miniseries after reading that. Kidding. Sortof.)
If you were one of those women (or girls - I knew lots of teens who did this) who ran out and bought Pride and Prejudice the book after watching the 2005 film and found the book hard to read - I'd recommend trying it again with the "insight edition" which will inevitably lead you to Sense & Sensibility. These editions really do a brilliant job of bridging a 200 year generation gap.
I received a copy of the Sense and Sensibility Insight Edition from Bethany House Publishers for the purposes of reviewing. My opinion, however, is entirely my own.