Austen's sleeper - bears many readings Mar 9, 2009
Of all Austen's works, this one improved most on long acquaintance.
I remember liking it less than the others when I read it for - I thought - the first time, was surprised to find something I'd written about it some years earlier.
So it made no impression on the first reading, and little (for an Austen) on the 2nd. I was more like passionate Marianne than like restrained Elinor, but Marianne's relentless seriousness made her hard to relate to also.
The heroes' characters really are less developed than Austen's others - frankly, I was never able to make much of Edward until Hugh Grant played him. And Colonel Brandon seemed old and dull to me.
Of course, Austen's witty observations and foible-revealing dialog make even this more austere book very enjoyable.
On subsequent readings, I more heartily admired Elinor's unglamorous virtues, felt greater compassion for foolish Marianne, and relished the girls' sound matches.The intervening years had taught me the importance of weighing character over other qualities in potential mates, and the benefits of impulse control.
After an easier sell (Pride & Prejudice or Emma) gives them a taste for Austen, passionate young ladies should read Sense and Sensibility - perhaps at least three times before embarking on love lives. You never know, it could help.