Saturday, July 20, 2013

Giving it Up: Sense and Sensibility

Adam C. Zern sounds off on the one book he couldn't bring himself to finish—Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility:

"I have an irrational need to complete every book I begin.  This need has forced me to complete a stack of stinkers—The Stranger by Albert Camus, The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, to name a few.  Yet, there still was one book, but only one book so far, that I just couldn't bring myself to complete—Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

I must admit I didn't see Sense and Sensibility as being the book I just couldn't bring myself to finish.  I have no aversion to stories of romance or domestic dramas.  Although not a perfect comparison with the book, I deeply adore the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice directed by Joe Wright (starring Keira Knightley) and consider it one of my favorite films of all time.  But Sense and Sensibility, from what I remember, seemed to be so unmercifully petty and trifling I felt literally no interest in the characters and their dilemmas.  Keep in my mind, I didn't give up on Sense and Sensibility after a few days with limited effort.  I spent a few weeks trudging my way through its pettifogging story—one agonizing page after another—and got to around 150 pages and gave it up.  I've never once wanted to go back to it and finish it; although, I'm afraid my irrational need to finish every book I begin may one day force me to do so.

Sense and Sensibility is the only Jane Austen book I have ever attempted to read.  Will I attempt to read some of her other works?  After my experience with Sense and Sensibility it's going to take quite a bit to set aside every book and give another Jane Austen story a try.  And the next time I read a Jane Austen book I probably will force myself to finish it."

Other topics of interest:
Reflections: Death Comes to Pemberly 
Reflections: Jane Austen In Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs
Boring Books: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


  1. When I was in middle school (before computers) I asked my teacher how many pages I should read to give a book a fair try and she suggested fifty. Now, it's more like one to five pages before giving something the raspberry. One hundred and fifty is an honest effort. I see no benefit in finishing a book that doesn't "do it" for you. Too many books left to read, too many stories to enjoy. Move on.

  2. "They" say the most accessible of Jane Austen's novels, and the easiest to start with, is 'Northanger Abbey.' I read it, and it never bored me. But then, I found the protagonist easily relatable.