Throughout the reading there was a scene from You’ve Got Mail that came often to mind. It’s about another Austen book, but can also apply to S&S. Kathleen writes to Joe Fox:

Confession. I have read Pride and Prejudice about 200 times. I get lost in the language. Words like ‘thither’, ‘mischance’, ‘felicity’. I’m always in agony whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together. Read it – I know you’ll love it.

The word “felicity” also makes an appearance in S&S, as well as “indefatigable”, “affronting”, “incommode”. How wonderful are these words? I think enjoy them more than most because they’re very close to Latin and hence much closer to my mother-tongue Portuguese. We say “felicidade” for “happiness” and “incomodo” for “inconvenience”.

Did you also notice that in Austen’s other novels there are echoes of S&S? The piano offered to Jane Fairfax in Emma, Mrs. Bennett saying she always noticed something about Wickham not quite right. I’m sure there are more connections that I missed – perhaps in a future re-reading?

It was a great ending to the book, I appreciated it better this time. On my first reading I felt that all was not exactly as pitch-perfect as I would like: Willoughby should have been more unhappy, Elinor and Edward should have been rich, Mrs. Ferrars still preferred her younger son and Marianne should have been much more in love with Captain Brandon than she seemed. But now I think I would have grimaced at the fairy-tale ending, as I would have grimaced at the convenience of Lucy’s change of heart… if Austen herself hadn’t so brilliantly acknowledge it:

Elinor’s particular knowledge of each party made it appear to her in every view, as one of the most extraordinary and unaccountable circumstances she had ever heard.

Sometimes I wish Dickens, the Brontës and other Victorians would better acknowledge the convulsed coincidences they come up with.

But what struck me most this time around was that the book is not so much about the individual sisters (or how I identify with one or the other), but about what we see when we see them together. The whole is bigger than the sum of the parts and all that. No matter what Elinor says, their stories were very similar, the difference was mostly in the way they behaved – and what a ride to witness it!

This may seem obvious is a novel called Sense and Sensibility about two sisters, but I felt it much more now, this analysis of reaction by two people so close and yet so different from one another. Jane Austen, just like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, was a student of character.

Thanks for all who participated in the readalong – it was so much fun!

(Credits)

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