Sense and Sensibility Meets Cinderella
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cassandra Atwood, the only daughter of wealthy and prosperous family, enjoys a very blissful and untroubled life with her doting father and affectionate mother. Cassandra is a talented and unaffected girl who takes pleasure in painting, playing the piano, and spending time with her benevolent and grandmotherly neighbor, Mrs. Christie. Unfortunately, tragedy invades Cassandra’s life of perfection and privilege multiple times in short succession. Cassandra soon finds herself removed from her childhood home and friends and under the power of her uncle and his pernicious wife, Belladonna. Belladonna immediately develops an intense hatred for Cassandra and relentlessly strives to make Cassandra’s life miserable. Belladonna maliciously confiscates any correspondence between for Cassandra from her friends back home and forces her to work as a lowly maid surviving on crumbs and wearing rags. (Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?)
Cassandra’s most precious treasure is a copy of Sense and Sensibility that she received from Mrs. Christie. Now, in her reduced circumstances it provides her with comfort and reminds her of the many happy times she read and discussed the novel with her dear Mrs. Christie. Many of the characters in this novel resemble characters from Sense and Sensibility such as Willoughby, Mrs. Jennings, Mr. Palmer, and most prominently John and Fanny Dashwood. Some of these characterizations were more subtle than others. In addition, Belladonna resembled Fanny Dashwood as well as an evil step-mother, which, combined with Cassandra’s subservient treatment gave the story a feel of the fairy tale Cinderella.
Sensing Jane Austen was a delightful and heartwarming tale. I fell in love with sensible and compassionate Cassandra and took much delight in seeing how Jane Austen influenced her life and her character. Moreover, I enjoyed distinguishing which characters were modeled after Sense and Sensibility characters. Ms. Williamson wonderfully crafted many lovable and loathsome characters! (I took great pleasure in loathing Belladonna!) In addition, Ms. Williamson penned such an innocent and wholesome tale with an endearing and flawless heroine that I was pleasantly reminded of Louisa May Alcott and her novels. However, the one part of the novel that did disappoint me a little was when the heroine all of sudden realized which of the many men in her life she was in love with. I would have liked for her to undergo a more gradual change and realization of love rather than a abrupt recognition. (I am such a romantic sometimes!)
Sensing Jane Austen is a fresh and unique Austenesque novel that warmed my heart and captivated my attention. It was a pleasant blend of Jane Austen’s characters and Louisa May Alcott’s style with a dash of fairy tale mixed in. I recommend it for readers interested in an innocent and endearing tale.
**I usually never comment on grammatical errors and typos because they really don’t hamper my enjoyment of the story, but in this novel the author used the word “goodly” and (. . .) in her dialogue so frequently that it did become a little distracting.