Sense and Sensibility (Modern Adaptation) – Book Review

A Three Word Review: Fun, Forced, Inspiring

(Read on for my full review)

Cover Image from Goodreads

Having read the original Pride and Prejudice for my school reading list, and eventually enjoying it, I was keen to read more classics, but wanted to also read a more recently written novel. I then saw an advert on Facebook for a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope,and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to read a classic and a modern novel at the same time. Although I hadn’t read the original, I had watched the film a couple of years ago for a literary quiz my school was participating in,and so had a vague recollection of the plot. I duly added the book to my Christmas list, and waited for Christmas day and the chance to start reading it.

And so a brand new hardback copy arrived in my lap on Christmas morning. Despite a few distractions in the form of trips to London and Christmas parties, I finished and reviewed my copy for school within a week-and-a-bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and have definitely been inspired to read both the original and more classics in general. I felt that all the main characters were fully developed; by the end of the book, I had to stop myself from texting Marianne to ask how she was, or from arranging to meet up with Elinor, the intricacies of their personalities were so well explained. However,I felt that the author maybe focussed too much on the main characters- it would have been great to gain a greater understanding of some of the more auxiliary, yet still fundamental characters, such as John Dashwood, Edward Ferrars, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Steele sisters.

I also felt that although the book was set firmly in the 21st century, Trollope tried a little too hard to reinforce the fact that this was a modern retelling. By the end of the book, it felt akin to having someone constantly yelling “this is a modern book. Modern, I tell you! With Facebook and Twitter and fancy gadgets called phones”. Tiresome, yes. Necessary, in any way, shape or form, no. These continual references further overshadowed the plot by just being randomly thrown in, often with no real link to the current point in the story. On the contrary, the book felt like it could have had more relevant references to popular modern culture such as music, TV, and books, rather than old-fashioned dinner parties and family fortunes- I do, however, understand that a certain degree of traditionality (if that’s a word?!?) is needed in the plot to link it to the original Jane Austen story.

One area that I feel Trollope brought firmly and effectively into the modern era was gender equality, and cars- regular, subtle references to  cars and public transport updated the story without making the reader consciously aware that the original story wasn’t in the 21st century. There were also regular references to women working, although I still felt that the emphasis was on male members of the household bringing in enough money to earn a living.

I would recommend this to girls aged 12 and above, who want to try out classics, but find them difficult to get into or are wary of old-fashioned language and would prefer an updated version.

An Overthinking Teenager

Have you read this? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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