Welcome to the last part of the Advent with Austen Sense & Sensibility Readalong! If you’re new to Advent with Austen and want to read more/sign up to be part of the fun, read this post; if you want the schedule for Sense & Sensibility, read this post!
Part IV took us from chapter 37 to the end.
Having watched the most excellent 1995 adaptation on Sunday, I knew how this was going to end, and was a little perturbed to find differences from the film: on screen, Willoughby is not permitted to confess and redeem himself to Elinor. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this – I found Willoughby on screen (as played by Greg Wise) much easier to tolerate, whereas he is so obviously a flawed character in the book that I didn’t want him to have a chance to worm his way back into the Dashwood hearts.
The slow revelation of everything to do with Lucy and Edward (and eventually Robert) is really clever, and much like Elinor, we are overcome by surprise because it is totally unexpected! And for anyone holding onto a last vestige of hope that Lucy might actually be a nice person, well, thanks for coming along. Similarly, Willoughby turns up to offer his confession when Elinor is anxiously awaiting her mother and Colonel Brandon – it is delivered with aplomb and a skill of revelation that I don’t usually associate with Austen!
Liburuak makes an entirely valid point that everything wraps up rather neatly in this long final part, although I will argue that there is a pleasantly harrowing diversion in Marianne’s sickness (did anyone think she was going to die? This is not, after all, Little Women). Again, the relationship between the sisters really comes to the fore here, with Elinor devastated by the possibility of losing Marianne, not having made the right decision for once in sending for their mother straight away, and for once we see Elinor give full vent to her feelings (as well as the peek at them that we got when she tells Marianne about Edward and Lucy).
Mrs Jennings definitely improves as a character over the course of the book, although I’m not sure what her redemptive event is supposed to have been:
“Mrs Jennings, however, with a kindness of heart which made Elinor really love her”
Somehow, because this is all wrapping up, it doesn’t feel like there’s all that much to say. So I’ve picked out some quotes instead:
“Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.”
“Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distresses, no less than in theirs”
“Elinor had heard enough, if not to gratify her vanity, and raise her self-importance, to agitate her nerves and fill her mind”
and my particular favourite:
“Marianne, who had the knack of finding her way in every house to the library, however it might be avoided by the family in general, soon procured herself a book.”
Now there’s a kindred spirit.
Some of us were thinking of getting Team Elinor t-shirts made up – if you’d be interested, let me know!
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the read-along, it has been great fun!