Sense and Sensibility (with bells on)

Firstly, a confession: until I came to be offered the opportunity to rewrite Sense and Sensibility, the closest I had come to Jane Austen was TV reruns of Mr Darcy emerging wet from a lake, and a reluctant trudge around her house with an obsessive friend. Not even my grandmother’s entreaties to the 13-year-old bookworm me that ‘it’s feminist, it’s funny’ could persuade me away from my pony novels and into the pages populated by the Bennets, the Elliots, the Dashwoods. ‘Too old-fashioned,’ I am sure I whined. ‘Too uncool,’ I am sure I thought.

Well, it may have taken more than three decades, but I quickly realised the folly of my own pride and prejudice, and have now eaten my ill-chosen words, for Austen is modern and relevant, as well as being funny and, yes, feminist. Though the world she paints is markedly different to our own, the heroines of Sense and Sensibility, Marianne and Elinor, are recognisable and endearing. We root for them in their endurance of the customs of the time, and in their pursuit by various men; we boo as Willoughby snubs the impassioned Marianne, and cheer as patient Elinor gets her Edward. There is something to learn here, about the predicament of women in the late Regency period, but more importantly, much to love. I hope you fall as hard for Jane Austen as I have done. Because there are many more treasures to read after this one.

Buy the book here

About Joanna Nadin

A former broadcast journalist and special adviser to the prime minister, since leaving politics I’ve written more than 80 books for children and adults, as well as speeches for politicians, and articles for newspapers and magazines like The Guardian, Red and The Amorist. I also lecture in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and hold a doctorate in young adult literature. I’m a winner of the Fantastic Book Award and the Surrey Book Award, and have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the Booktrust Best Book award and Queen of Teen among others, and twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, for Everybody Hurts, and for Joe All Alone, which is now a BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC TV series. I've also worked with Sir Chris Hoy on the Flying Fergus series and ghost-written Angry Birds under another name. I like London, New York, Essex, tea, cake, Marmite, mint imperials, prom dresses, pubs, that bit in the West Wing where Donna tells Josh she wouldn’t stop for a red light if he was in an accident, junk shops, crisps, Cornwall, St Custard’s, Portuguese custard tarts, political geeks, pin-up swimsuits, the Regency, high heels, horses, old songs, my Grandma’s fur coat, vinyl, liner notes, the smell of old books, the feel of a velveteen monkey, Guinness, quiffs, putting my hand in a bin of chicken feed, the 1950s, burlesque, automata, fiddles, flaneuring, gigs in fields on warm summer nights, Bath, the bath.
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