MY RATING: 5 STARS
Here follows my review as posted on GoodReads (rewritten in light of a recent change of opinion!):
** spoiler alert ** I'll admit it, I didn't like this half so well the first time I read it. I was too attached to Ang Lee's film adaptation for the book to ever measure up. Second time around, however, my opinion has entirely changed, and I can safely say I love S and S just as much--if not more!--than Pride and Prejudice.
I was initially inclined to favor Marianne over every other character, but I have to give more and more credit to Elinor, Edward, and Colonel Brandon. My own sensibilities have tempered somewhat, and Marianne's selfishness and the general strength of character shown by the other three are more apparent and, in the case of the latter, more appreciated.
This is presented as a novel of contrasts, a fact most clearly seen between Elinor and Marianne themselves, but elsewhere as well. The John Dashwoods are greedy, conceited snobs and there's a distinct lack of sense among the Jennings women, but the Miss Dashwoods are in much better company with the Jennings'. Colonel Brandon is reserved, composed, and (gasp!) thirty-five whereas Willoughby is outspoken, passionate, and unrestrained, yet there's no question of who is better for Marianne. Even the difference of settings reflects the "x vs. y" theme that runs through the book. The quiet of the countryside is the perfect place for first Elinor and then Marianne to fall in love with their respective suitors, and the bustle of London echoes Marianne's agitation at Willoughby's later inconstancy. You get the idea.
Again, the observations I take away from this are that we can't always let our hearts run away with us, calm and steady affection can be more rewarding than tumultuous passion, and we all on occasion must eat our words--as illustrated by my re-reading of this in the first place. Ready for another shocker? In a few months...I'm going to read it again!
So that brings the grand count up to...three. Look at that! We're halfway there!
Your humble book nerd,