Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale by Rebecca H. Jamison

Title: Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale
Author: Rebecca H. Jamison
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Digital Copy
Content Alert: A clean read

Poor Elly and Maren have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Their father's software company went bankrupt, and he died shortly thereafter. Elly has coped by throwing herself headlong into work (for the rival company to her father's, which happens to be owned by her ex-fiance), while Maren can't seem to get out of bed. When the family has the chance to move from California to Maryland, it might be the solution to their financial turmoil, and both girls might even find love.

I think I've made it clear in the past that I am not big on Jane Austen remakes. In my opinion, what makes Austen's books enduring classics is the cultural commentary they provide, and not simply the romance (I mean, seriously, I'm not sure I'd want to end up with any of Austen's heroes, even Mr. Darcy). What I love when I read Austen is the way I get a window into the world in which she lived. And if a modern revision of the story doesn't do that, then the book doesn't work for me. However, this version of Sense and Sensibility does work. Jamison's story tackles hard things-- she writes about mental illness, women in STEM, mental health issues people can have when they return from war and multicultural marriages, all set against the backdrop of Mormon culture. There were certain plot details I didn't love (a death late in the novel seemed a little too convenient), and Maren's character drove me a little crazy (but then again, so does Marianne Dashwood's character), but overall I enjoyed the story, and think the modern adaptation was a pretty successful one. 

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