Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Following her 2011 release of A Modern Day Persuasion, author Kaitlin Saunders once again picks up her pen to modernize one of Jane Austen’s beloved novels. In her faithful adaptation, A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility, we encounter a grieving Dashwood family as they attempt to pick up the pieces of their lives after losing, not only a father and husband they adored, but their comfortable and cherished home.
A round of applause to Kaitlin Saunders for stepping up to the challenge of modernizing Sense and Sensibility, which in my opinion, is one of the most daunting of Jane Austen’s novels to modernize! So many of the situations and conflicts in this novel do not have the same significance or consequences in our contemporary world as they did in Jane Austen’s. Engaged to a girl you are no longer in love with? (break up with her, it won’t cause a scandal!) About to be disinherited by your wealthy aunt? (get a job, stop being lazy!) I commend Kaitlin Saunders for taking on such a challenging feat!
My favorite scenes in this adaptation, and where I felt Ms. Saunders’ talents truly shine, were the scenes that illustrate the close bond the Dashwood women have with each other. How Mrs. Dashwood lets Ellie know she is there for her (when she sees that Ellie still hasn’t heard from Edward), how Ellie always shows Marianne such care and consideration (even though she can be pretty exasperating), how Ellie mourns the loss their closeness when Willoughby starts to create a rift in their relationship – all made this novel heartfelt and uplifting. In addition, it was inspiring to witness how these four women were able to start their lives anew, overcome their obstacles, and heal from their grief together.
A Modern Day Sense and Sensibility is a very straightforward adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Kaitlin Saunders meticulously adheres to the original plot and characters – you won’t find too many surprising twists here! Part of me thought it was very respectful of Kaitlin Saunders to write such an accurate and faithful update, but at the same time, another part of me wished for some new scenes, clever recreations, and creative insights. One scene I was hoping to see updated and (dare I say it?) improved from Jane Austen’s novel was a scene where Brandon declares himself and proposes to Marianne (which we don’t see happen in Jane Austen’s novel!). But alas, we again don’t see it happen! In fact, we go right from Edward and Ellie getting engaged to the double wedding…it definitely felt like there was a scene missing.
One aspect of this novel that didn’t sit right with me was the fact that Marianne was eighteen. I’m not sure if it was because Brandon was in his thirties, or because everyone seemed to be perfectly fine with the idea of Marianne becoming engaged and married at such a young age, or both…I know Marianne is only sixteen in Jane Austen’s novel, I know that it isn’t unheard of for people to get engaged and married at the age of eighteen, and that the age differences of ten plus years isn’t too shocking…but I guess when you put it all together Marianne’s situation felt a little too far removed and atypical.
Despite my quibbles, I’m so happy to have read this lovely adaptation by Kaitlin Saunders. I enjoyed my time with her lovely characters and her authentic renderings. Looking forward to reading her first release, A Modern Day Persuasion (2011) next!