This is a classic that somehow I'd never got around to reading.
The novel follows the Dashwoods, and begins as old Mr. Dashwood passes away. The old man had never married, and had recently had his nephew Henry Dashwood's family living with him, as Henry was who was the intended heir. They were not only living with him in hopes but also through genuine goodwill and the relationship was happy on all sides. But the old man had more recently taken a shine to Henry's son by his first marriage, and his young grandson by him, and surprised all by leaving the estate to them, giving Henry only a life interest. Unfortunately for Henry's more recently family he didn't outlive his old uncle by many months, leaving his second wife and his daughters with little financial cushion to keep them up. The son, John Dashwood soon arrived with his family and showed little of the goodwill and generosity of his father, giving little real support to his stepmother and half-sisters, although perhaps he may have done more but for his wife's attitude towards sharing, which was to not do it unless compelled.
Luckily for Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters, a cousin some distance away offered them a cottage on his estate for a modest rent and once the removed themselves there, involved them to a large degree in his social life.
The book's title is a play on the two aspects of character, sense and sensibility, and which of the characters has what amount of each quality. The majority of the novel follows the two eldest daughters Elinor and Marianne. Elinor has both qualities with sense ruling her reactions to situations and causing her to show less of the other quality, sensibility, to others at first glance. Elinor is a young woman who watches the people around her and takes a cautionary approach to situations, who is always polite and reasonable and knows that she must on occasion be polite even when she doesn't feel that way. Marianne, while not without sense, shows more of her sensibility, with passion leading her in all her reactions. She is quick to state her impressions and reacts emotionally and often without thinking what others must infer from those actions.
The book illustrates class, honor, and the interaction of characters with many different motivations. I really enjoyed it.
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