Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (Naxos Audiobooks) – A Review

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, read by Juliet Stevenson (Naxos Audiobooks) 2005Even though it has been two hundred years since the world was first introduced to sisters Marianne and Elinor Dashwood’s financial, social and romantic trials, their story remains for me, as fresh and vibrant as any contemporary story you might read of, experience yourself, or hear tell tale of today. I give full credit, of course, to Jane Austen. Her understanding of human nature and how to craft emotions and characters into an engaging story remains unparalleled. Add to that a delightful twelve hour and forty-three minute reading by the accomplished British actress Juliet Stevenson’s polished interpretation of memorable personalities and you are primed for unsurpassed entertainment. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

When Mrs. Dashwood is forced by an avaricious daughter-in-law to leave the family home in Sussex, she takes her three daughters to live in a modest cottage in Devon. For Elinor, the eldest daughter, the move means a painful separation from the man she loves, but her sister Marianne finds in Devon the romance and excitement which she longs for. The contrasting fortunes and temperaments of the two girls as they struggle to cope in their different ways with the cruel events which fate has in store for them are portrayed by Jane Austen with her usual irony, humor and profound sensibility.

It is amazing to think that Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. As a debut author she showed incredible understanding of characterization and plot development. Many of the personalities contained in this novel remain the most memorable for me of her entire canon. The affability of Sir John Middleton, the persistent meddling of Mrs. Jennings, the droll indifference of Mr. Palmer and the malleable weakness of Mr. John Dashwood are played against the narrow greed of the unscrupulous Fanny Dashwood and her officious, spiteful mother Mrs. Ferrars. These secondary characters really make our heroes and villains shine, and withstanding the two heroines Elinor and Marianne, it is amusing to see how Austen plays with our emotions in guessing who the heroes will be and how the morality will play out.

Sense and Sensibility does have a few plot wholes and loose coincidences that readers will be raising eyebrows over, but it remains a novel wholly entrenched in the passionate joys of youthful love and emotional loss, cruel social snobbery and biting social reproof as relevant today as it was in 1811.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

This is my ninth selection in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011, my year-long homage to Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. You can follow the event as I post reviews on the fourth Wednesday of every month and read all of the other participants contributions posted in the challenge review pages here.

A Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one unabridged CD or digital download of Sense and Sensibility (Naxos Audiobooks) by leaving a comment by midnight PT, Wednesday, October 5, 2011 stating which character you love to hate in Sense and Sensibility or what motivates you to read Jane Austen’s classic for the first time. Winner to be announced on Thursday, October 6, 2011. CD shipment to US or Canadian addresses only. Digital download internationally. Good luck!

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen and read by Juliet Stevenson
Naxos Audiobooks (2005)
Unabridged audio CD’s, 12 hours, 43 minutes
ISBN: 978-9626343616

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

44 thoughts on “Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (Naxos Audiobooks) – A Review

  1. I have to second Sally’s hatred for Lucy Steele. I found her affectation of friendship towards Elinor to be slimy… Edward must have been very naive, indeed, if he ever believed himself in love with her.

    Like

  2. Willoughby! I just want to mentally punch his lights out because nobody should treat the ladies as cruelly as he did!

    Further, if it is Naxos, it HAS to be good. I have an extensive collection of classical music CD’s and no label beats Naxos for quality or value.

    This sounds really excellent

    Like

  3. I have to say I truly hate Fanny Dashwood. She is cruel and selfish and completely responsible for manipulating her WEAK husband. But I really enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s take on Fanny in his book Lost in a Good Book. He poses Fanny with a desire to know how the world outside of the Literary one in which she lives, views her. She asks the Literary Detective with access to the outside world (the one where we live) to tell the masses that she is really a nice person, she was merely written “that” way so that the story could progress. That perspective makes me Laugh out Loud. What a funny notion…characters that care how they are perceived and defending their behavior by blaming the author. Even literary characters are victims.

    Like

  4. I find the “other Mrs. Dashwood” to be the character in Sense and Sensibility who I most love to hate!
    Her treatment of the Dashwood women was made the more odious because she had to have known that “there, but for the grace of God, go I…”
    May I say, that whoever wins this prize is in for a treat, indeed! I possess five of Juliet Stevenson’s fine narrations of Jane Austen novels and she has no equal.
    Thank you for offering this contest!

    Like

  5. I thoroughly dislike the Dashwood’s brother who lets himself be led by the *ahem* nose by his wife. He is so weak-willed that he ignores the wishes of his dying father. He is only interested in money, which is what he always talks about with Elinor, without ever being able to see her poverty or to understand her feelings. He has what I like to call “willful ignorance” — he is utterly loathesome! At least Willoughby has some inkling he is a pathetic person, not John Dashwood!

    Like

  6. To be different, I think I’ll say that I love to hate Mrs.Ferrars. The way that she manipulates her children and the world around the world is so horrible and it so great to see her manipulations fail.

    Like

  7. I love to hate Fanny Dashwood. Part of this is that the other villains are easier to justify, though not to absolve. Lucy Steele is defending her territory. Willoughby is putting finances ahead of love (he’s still a cad for impregnating and dumping a young girl). I love to hate Fanny because of the opening scene where she talks her husband out of supporting his stepfamily. “People always live forever when there is an annuity to be paid them.” She is so manipulative – you understand the character immediately after this one conversation. Austen is so wonderful at allowing her characters to say the most audacious things in the most pragamatic language. One of my favorite scenes in Austen.

    Like

  8. I love that the characters make one want to have Sense and Sensibility. The book is a wonderful way to get into the lives of people in that time period. How would it be for us individually if we could transport ourselves back to that time? Would it be better or worse than what we have right now with wars, knowledge of global warming and economic disasters? Anyway, I would love to win the CDs as I have never read this through another’s live voice-just the book and film versions-

    Like

  9. Fanny Dashwood is the one that I can’t stand, but frankly her husband isn’t much better for so easily going along with her scheme. Boo hiss!
    By the way, I LOVE Juliet Stevenson’s reading. So delightful! I have the Emma CDs and on our last out of state drive my husband downloaded her Mansfield Park for his kindle. We plugged it in to our audio and listened to it while we drove. He enjoyed it. Mansfield park is my favorite and I never would have got him to read the book!

    Like

  10. I would have to say I love to hate Mrs. Ferrars. The way she has raised two of her children to be such nasty characters gives me good reason. Plus, it’s lovely to see how she loses out in the end.

    Like

  11. It’s a toss-up between Fanny Dashwood, her husband, Lucy Steele, and the elder Mrs. Ferrars. What a story to have so many hateful characters to plague us! But on the other hand, there’s dear Colonel Brandon to love. Big sigh.

    Like

  12. I love to hate the Misses Steele. Whenever they come on the scene, I just know that I’m going to laugh, and I dearly love to laugh! I really dislike Willoughby, the cad, and Marianne, the totally-self-centered-child, but I can’t find anything to love (to hate) about either of them!

    I already own the Juliet Stevenson Audiobook for this (and 4 more of Jane Austen’s novels — that’s how much I enjoy her reading!) so don’t enter me in the contest, Laurel Ann. I just want to point out that her reading is EXCELLENT, and whoever wins will really enjoy it. Also, if you think about it, Jane Austen wrote her stories to be read aloud; that’s what her family did with all her work, and by listening to them (or reading them, of course), you can create your own movie in your head. You don’t have to deal with any strange additions or important parts left out by the screenwriter! Every well-considered word Jane Austen wrote is there! I listen to them in my car daily as I drive to work, or wherever I go. It’s wonderful!

    Like

  13. I have to agree with the others and say Lucy Steele. She is the type of person who is just out to marry just to bring attention to herself. In that regards she fits in well with the Ferrar’s…lol We can take comfort in knowing she would have been stuck being so close to all the others who are just like her, she never would have been really happy.

    Like

  14. Fanny Dashwood is just so selfish and manipulative, but all under the pretense of ‘only wanting the best for her family.’ She makes me crazy!

    Like

  15. I see a tie between Fanny Dashwood and Mrs. Ferrars. Fanny displays more via conversation where as Mrs. Ferrars is more mentioned than speaking. Either way, they are both despicable. I’d really love to win this boxed set!

    Like

  16. I’m going to take a different turn on this and say Mrs. Jennings. I appreciate the kindness she shows to the Dashwood girls but she is that distant relative, that no matter how much you love them, you cringe when they are present for fear of what they will say in public,. Whether she temps me will olives or not, I prefer to visit with her at a small cottage rather than the society ball.

    Like

  17. I love listening to Austen being read. Things strike me differently when I hear them as apposed to reading the printed word. As for who to hate most in the book, I’ve decided it is Mr. Dashwood’s uncle, who instead of rewarding the constant care and affection of his nephew and his family, left his estate to his great great nephew simply because the child was a spoiled, obnoxious brat.

    Like

  18. it has to be Fanny Dashwood for my disgust! just the guile in her speech and influence over her husband is abominable…
    i haven’t any audios of Jane Austen so this is definitely capturing my hopes! thanks for this opportunity! sounds like a must =)

    Like

  19. Mrs. Ferrars is really the worst. She all ready has the money and is just greedy and spiteful. Talk about using your power for evil. I do hate Lucy Steele but will give her a slight pass only because she is doesn’t have any money of her own… so I guess she is just in it for self-preservation. If you can call that an excuse.

    Like

  20. Pingback: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  21. I adore Juliet Stevenson! Lucy Steele is my love to hate character. I dislike her qualities in any woman so it’s fun to get to hate a fictional version in the book.

    Like

  22. I’m going to say someone that hasn’t been mentioned too much yet…Robert Ferrars. He’s just waiting for his brother to mess up and he’s happy when he loses everything but he still marries Lucy. Which I guess is a redeeming factor in a sense. And the bratty little Ferrars nephew. He seems to be already following in his mom’s footsteps by taking over things before the Dashwood women are even out of the house….spoiled little guy. He could end up just as horrible as his parents. I picked them mostly because I hated the same ones everyone else did but I couldn’t leave them out. I have never heard any of the audio books and I’d love to give it a try.

    Like

  23. There are a number of unlikable characters in S&S but I would have to choose Willoughby, one of Jane Austen’s most complex villains. He charms all the Dashwood women and then comes close to destroying Marianne through his wicked treatment of her. He’s weak and in the end thinks only of his own pleasure, marrying another young woman for her fortune. The remarkable scene JA gives Willoughby and Elinor towards the conclusion of the book makes Willoughby my choice.

    Like

  24. I can’t decide between Fanny Dashwood and Lucy Steele — they’re both so deliberately mean and avaricious! The one willfully impoverishes an entire family and the other stubbornly intends to force a man she knows doesn’t love her (she, in fact, knows that he has an attachment to another) to marry her because she wants his money. Sense and Sensibility has plenty of scoundrels (Mr. Willoughby and Mrs. Ferrars are definitely in that list!) but I think that Fanny and Lucy are the most fun to detest!

    Like

  25. Yes, I’d agree with the choice of Fanny–she has no reason to be terrible while Lucy’s desperate, jealous, and insecure. What nasty women they are, in contrast to the 2 heroines!

    Like

  26. So many characters that you just love to hate in S&S, and I am going to pick one not mentioned yet: Mrs. Jennings. Mother of God, she does so many things that just make me CRINGE. I know she doesn’t mean to be malicious, but for the love of heaven, just stop talking, please!

    Like

  27. Fanny Dashwood, hands down. Austen also wanted us to hate her, just look a that first scene, where she persuades her husband to “downgrade” his help to his sisters…

    S&S was my first Austen and the only one I didn’t read in the original language. I picked it up because it was in my mother’s bookshelf and the blurb sounded interesting.

    Like

  28. I love hating ALL the S&S bad people, except for maybe Willoughby. For some reason he gets my sympathy for being weak and feckless and hopeless. John and Fanny and the Steele sisters and Robert will all go on to enjoy their lives to some extent, but Willoughby is doomed by serious character defects.

    Thank you for introducing Naxos Audiobooks CDs. I didn’t know about there being such a thing available. Will check out Juliet Stevenson for the list.

    Like

  29. Pingback: Giveaway winner announced for Sense and Sensibility (Naxos Audiobooks) « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  30. Pingback: Winner Announced in The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Reading Challenge Giveaway! « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

Comments are closed.