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Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

In the introduction to the Sense and Sensibility (Insight Editions) Julie Klassen writes: “Jane Austen is more popular now than during her lifetime nearly two hundred years ago.” Earlier this week I went to Barnes & Noble. Sure enough, there was an end cap in the fiction section covered with retellings and sequels to Austen’s beloved novels. Austen’s influence can even be found in the popular paranormal genre; Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) and Jane Austen both appear as vampires in two such books. The Insight Edition, published by Bethany House Publishers, offers a newly packaged look at the original story of Sense and Sensibility, with a few fun surprises in store.

I’ll be honest with you. Up until this week, Sense and Sensibility was the only Jane Austen novel I had not yet read. Without this new edition of the beloved classic, it’s more than likely I never would have made it through. A few months ago, I attempted to read it from beginning to end, but gave up less than a third of the way into the story. I was baffled. If I can read Pride and Prejudice in two days flat, then why was I having so much trouble with Sense and Sensibility? Like in other novels, Austen writes about marrying for love and/or money, first impressions, and differences in class.

Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Marianne and Elinor Dashwood. They are the late Mr. Dashwood’s children from his second marriage. At the time of his death, he asks his son Henry to care for youngest three daughters and his new widow. However, Henry’s wife has his ear and persuades him to give them less income annually than the promise he made to his father. Marianne and Elinor can only hope to preserve their future by making smart matches.

Bold and romantic Marianne has her sights set on the charming Mr. Willoughby, and sensible and logical Elinor has fallen for Edward Ferrars. Neither gentleman is what he seems, and both girls soon suffer from a broken heart. The loss of Mr. Willoughby prolongs Marianne’s sickness, and Elinor silently suffers through Edward’s upcoming nuptials with Lucy Steele. Just as it seems all hope is lost for a happy ending, Marianne opens her heart to a new love, and Elinor learns that things are not exactly as they seem.

This annotated edition of Sense and Sensibility enhanced a story I already knew through the 1995 Kate Winslet/Emma Thompson feature film. The editors provided trivia about the movie, ranked their favorite characters and least favorite characters, offered facts about Jane Austen and the Regency period, and provided definitions of difficult words. Whether Sense and Sensibility is an old favorite or a new-to-you text, this is the edition you should read. Lovingly put together by some of Austen’s biggest fans, the Insight Edition will earn a slot on your bookshelf.

Rating: 5/5

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bethany House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.