Sense and Sensibility Re-telling

Sense and SensibilityTitle: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Joanna Trollope
Source: from publisher for TLC book tour
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: This book was an incredibly similar experience to reading the original and it feel fresh again because of the change in setting.

There are two kinds of re-tellings. There are those which use the original as an inspiration and which become awesome by using the original material in creative new ways. Cinder is one of my favorite examples of that kind of re-telling. This is not that kind of re-telling. This is the other kind, where the source material is preserved almost entirely with just a setting change and this is by far the best example of that kind of re-telling that I’ve ever read.

First of all, despite the integration of modern terms and even some pop culture, the writing reminds me very much of Austen. It’s something about the way she uses adjectives and long descriptive clauses, in my non-English-major opinion. Whatever it is, it works. I thought she also did a remarkable job preserving the spirit of each character. They may not be exactly the same, but the things I would list as being essential to who they are were all preserved. This is a little thing, but I thought it was nice that she kept the same names for her characters too. There’s no reason to change that (unless your change of setting demands it) and it makes it far less confusing to discuss the book later!

I was also incredibly impressed by the author’s ability to create modern situations analogous to the now outdated social situations in the original. Every scene I loved in the original had an counterpart in this re-telling. There was also some detail added to Edward and Elinor’s romance, something I liked in the movie and also liked here. It’s so much easier to root for a couple when you know why the like each other! At the end of the day, this still might have only been a four star review except for one very important thing. This book made me feel the exact same way as re-reading the original. I had some memory of what was going to happen, but I still couldn’t wait to get to the conclusion and I was so happy for our characters when I got there. While it is likely that no re-telling is going to do it for a real Austen purist, for anyone else, if you are out of new Austen to read and need something to fill the gaping void that has created in your life, read this. It was almost a lot like getting to read Sense and Sensibility for the first time all over again.

For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tourAmazon, or Goodreads.


Filed under Classics, Fiction, Re-telling

24 responses to “Sense and Sensibility Re-telling

  1. I haven’t really tried a lot of retellings of classic lit. Recently I tried reading one…The Flight of Gemma Hardy a retelling of Jane Eyre. I DNF. I think it was what you would call the type where the source material is preserved. Maybe it was just a not in the mood thing…But the opening scenes was just too similar…and I soon got bored. Have you read it? Maybe I should give it another try.

    But this Sense and Sensibility retelling seems interesting…It’s always interesting when they transplant the story into a modern setting and how they try to fit into the new social conventions.

    • I haven’t read The Flight of Gemma Hardy, but having read Jane Eyre for the first time recently, I am intrigued by the idea. I could definitely see a re-telling that’s the identical story becoming boring, especially if you’d read the original too recently. In this case, I think the setting was different enough that it was easier for the story to stay fresh and I was probably in the right mood for it when I read it 🙂

  2. “It was almost a lot like getting to read Sense and Sensibility for the first time all over again.” For this alone I would read this book!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  3. Wow, this sounds fantastic! I have to admit that I am not usually a fan of this kind of retelling (I prefer the Cinder kind because they’re less predictable as they don’t follow the story as closely). But this actually sounds really well done! And sometimes I like rereading the old classics – this would be an interesting way of doing so!

    • I often prefer the other kind of retelling too, but I was very impressed with this one. I thought there was something of the author in the story, but she also did a great job capturing the feel of the original.

  4. It really is about the setting! One of the reason Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters was so much better was that it was moved vs PPZ which was in the same place with stuff stuck into it which bothered me.

    • Oh, that’s interesting! And I think it makes a lot of sense. In the case of PPZ, it seems like it could feel like the new author is messing up the original by modifying it so directly. On the other hand, the Sense and Sensibility story sounds like more of a complete revamp just paying homage to the original by using some of those plot elements. I think I’d like that better too 🙂

      • Definitely! It was an actual rewrite, versus just sticking disparate elements into it. I can’t wait to read this new retelling! They’ve announced three or four of the authors.

  5. This is really interesting! I haven’t read a lot of Austen, but my sister just loves her. I’m excited to tell her about this book and the Austen project that Harper is doing. I think she will really like it.

    • I hope she does 🙂 I really like Austen too. I’m currently reading Mansfield Park which doesn’t have the most exciting main characters and I’m still enjoying just because I like her writing style so much!

  6. I’m not much of a fan of the original, enough that I can’t remember why except that I found it dreary, but what you’ve said about the movie’s added details sounds possible.

    These sorts of retellings can be hit and miss, definitely, though this sounds very good. Maybe one to make a fan of the original?

    • Possibly. It is very like the original, but the change of setting might make it more relatable and if you liked the added details in the movie, I have high hopes that you might enjoy the retelling better 🙂

  7. ebookclassics

    Great review! I was very curious about this book, but it seems to be getting some flak in the media so wasn’t sure if it was written in a way that respected Austen’s original. I would definitely give it a chance if Joanna Trollope stayed true to the spirit of the story and characters.

    • Well, I have to admit that I’m not the most critical reader and I do think I go into books predisposed to enjoy them. That said, having read some of the media coverage, I think their accusations are a bit harsh. For instance, complaints about her making Marianne seem selfish and petulant could, I think. also be levelled at the original but simply aren’t because it’s a classic. And I do think the author provided a fairly reasonable explanation for Edmund not wanting to break his engagement, despite the modern setting. So, I can’t promise you wouldn’t read it and decide the critics were right, but it did work for me 🙂

  8. Sounds really interesting. I haven’t read S & S in some time, so it might be a good time to try this- great review!

  9. I think that there are fabulous ways to retell a classic tale, and some crappy ways. I agree, though, that keeping the characters names is important. I think that’s good, or even a “modern” version of the name, if it exists, like something similar enough where you know the character still but it doesn’t have to be exact.

    • It certainly makes it much easier to write a review if they keep the names! Otherwise, I feel like I have to include both names or just ignore the new names so that people will know which characters I’m talking about

  10. I’ll have to check this out! I like how you said that the book was updated, but the writing style reminded you of Austen’s writing and that Elinor’s and Edward’s romance was expanded upon a bit. I love a good retelling (Cinder’s one of my favorites, too)! 🙂 Great review!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  11. Pingback: Joanna Trollope, author of Sense & Sensibility, on tour October/November 2013 | TLC Book Tours

  12. “I was also incredibly impressed by the author’s ability to create modern situations analogous to the now outdated social situations in the original.”

    I wonder if I would have enjoyed this one better if I had, indeed, read the original first. Enjoyed your review 🙂

    • It’s possible you would have enjoyed it more, although looking at your review, it seems as though some of the things that bothered you might still have been annoying. I might have given it some extra leeway as I was reading it though because I was so fond of the original and so happy with how well the author copied Austen’s style 🙂

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