Many books have been written to continue the stories of the characters that Jane Austen created, including sequels, prequels, continuations, and diaries. Most of these books have been written about the most popular of her novels, Pride and Prejudice while ignoring some of her other different, but equally well-written and beautiful novels–Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. Now for the first time, all six of Jane Austen’s books have been re-imagined and set in the 21st century. The Austen Project has started their new series with an update of Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope—a version filled with unique problems and surprises from today’s world, while still holding true to some of the qualities in Jane Austen’s original novel that makes Sense and Sensibility a timeless tale of sisterhood and second chances.
Invariably, as with all modern retellings, things were left out or changed that were in Jane Austen’s original. While the basic plot stays the same, Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility has some minor differences in characters and culture—an understandable change because of the different time setting. The updated characters include: Colonel (Bill) Brandon–who converted Delaford into a rehab for drug and alcohol addicts, Edward Ferrars–the philanthropic black sheep of his family, Elinor–the practical student of architecture who has to financially (and emotionally) support her two sisters and mother, Belle Dashwood–Elinor and Marianne’s free-spirited and sentimental mother, Margaret–the moody teenager who is addicted to Facebook, Twitter, and her iPod, Marianne–the guitar-playing romantic who suffers from severe asthma attacks, and John (Wills) Willoughby–the very hot and seemingly rich playboy.
I enjoyed seeing all the characters from Sense and Sensibility from a modern perspective. Joanna Trollope had to answer some uniquely modern questions in her novel. How to keep Regency titles and hierarchy in the setting of present-day England? The Dashwood women had to work to support themselves (unlike upper-class Regency women)—which one of them would be the one to keep everyone afloat, pay bills, and get a job? How to account for the lack of contact (and dramatic suspense) between love interests in an age of texting, cell phones, cars, and email? All the characters had to “transition” from the Regency world to the modern world, and for the most part, Joanna Trollope did a great job. Continue reading