Sense and Sensibility

( 731 )

Overview

One of Jane Austen's most beloved novels, brought to life in a sparkling dramatization!

When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy ...

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Sense and Sensibility

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Overview

One of Jane Austen's most beloved novels, brought to life in a sparkling dramatization!

When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy Edward Ferrars, his family disapproves and separates them. And though Mrs. Jennings tries to match the worthy (and rich) Colonel Brandon to her, Marianne finds the dashing and fiery Willoughby more to her taste. Both relationships are sorely tried. But this is a romance, and through the hardships and heartbreak, true love and a happy ending will find their way for both the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility.

The Dashwood sisters are very different from each other in appearance and temperament; Elinor's good sense and readiness to observe social forms contrast with Marianne's impulsive candor and warm but excessive sensibility. Both struggle to maintain their integrity and find happiness in the face of a competitive marriage market.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The technique of [Jane Austen's novels] is beyond praise . . . Her mastery of the art she chose, or that chose her, is complete."  —Elizabeth Bowen

"How could these novels ever seem remote . . . the gaiety is unextinguished today, the irony has kept its bite, the reasoning is still sweet, the sparkle undiminished, as comedies they are irresistibly and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."  —Eudora Welty

"[Jane Austen] has a talent for describing the involvements of feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with."  —Sir Walter Scott

"Jane Austen is my favourite author."  —E.M. Forster

"The wit of Jane Austen has for partner the perfection of her taste."  —Virginia Woolf

"For those of us who suspect all the mysteries of life are contained in the microcosm of the family, that personal relationships prefigure all else, the work of Jane Austen is the Rosetta Stone of literature."  —Anna Quindlen

From the Publisher

"The technique of [Jane Austen's novels] is beyond praise . . . Her mastery of the art she chose, or that chose her, is complete."  —Elizabeth Bowen

"How could these novels ever seem remote . . . the gaiety is unextinguished today, the irony has kept its bite, the reasoning is still sweet, the sparkle undiminished, as comedies they are irresistibly and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be."  —Eudora Welty

"[Jane Austen] has a talent for describing the involvements of feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with."  —Sir Walter Scott

"Jane Austen is my favourite author."  —E.M. Forster

"The wit of Jane Austen has for partner the perfection of her taste."  —Virginia Woolf

"For those of us who suspect all the mysteries of life are contained in the microcosm of the family, that personal relationships prefigure all else, the work of Jane Austen is the Rosetta Stone of literature."  —Anna Quindlen

From the Publisher
 • "The technique of [Jane Austen's novels] is beyond praise... Her mastery of the art she chose, or that chose her, is complete." --Elizabeth Bowen

 • "The wit of Jane Austen has for partner the perfection of her taste." --Virginia Woolf

Deidre Lynch SUNY at Buffalo
"The complexity and courage of Sense and Sensibility get their due in this wonderful new edition, which features an illuminating and sometimes surprising selection of contextual materials. Kathleen James-Cavan's introduction provides a readable, trenchant account of the characteristically bold ways in which Austen went public as a woman novelist and negotiated the power of literary precedent."
From Barnes & Noble
This first of Jane Austen's published novels is the story of two starkly different English sisters: Elinor Dashwood, the epitome of prudence & self-control, and her younger, more impetuous sister Marianne, who embodies emotion, openness, & sheer enthusiasm.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780099511557
  • Publisher: Random House UK
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Series: Vintage Classics
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,466,285
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen (1775–1817) is a renowned Regency novelist. Her other works include Emma (1816) and Pride and Prejudice (1813).

Biography

In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.

Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

Sense and Sensibility


By Jane Austen

Vintage

Copyright © 2007 Jane Austen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307386878

Sense and Sensibility, the first of those metaphorical bits of "ivory" on which Jane Austen said she worked with "so fine a brush," jackhammers away at the idea that to conjecture is a vain and hopeless reflex of the mind. But I'll venture this much: If she'd done nothing else, we'd still be in awe of her. Wuthering Heights alone put Emily Brontë in the pantheon, and her sister Charlotte and their older contemporary Mary Shelley might as well have saved themselves the trouble of writing anything but Jane Eyre and Frankenstein. Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811, is at least as mighty a work as any of these, and smarter than all three put together. And it would surely impress us even more without Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815) towering just up ahead. Austen wrote its ur-version, Elinor and Marianne, when she was nineteen, a year before First Impressions, which became Pride and Prejudice; she reconceived it as Sense and Sensibility when she was twenty-two, and she was thirty-six when it finally appeared. Like most first novels, it lays out what will be its author's lasting preoccupations: the "three or four families in a country village" (which Austen told her niece, in an often-quoted letter, was "the very thing to work on"). The interlocking anxieties overmarriages, estates, and ecclesiastical "livings." The secrets, deceptions, and self-deceptions that take several hundred pages to straighten out-to the extent that they get straightened out. The radical skepticism about human knowledge, human communication, and human possibility that informs almost every scene right up to the sort-of-happy ending. And the distinctive characters-the negligent or overindulgent parents, the bifurcating siblings (smart sister, beautiful sister; serious brother, coxcomb brother), the charming, corrupted young libertines. Unlike most first novels, though, Sense and Sensibility doesn't need our indulgence. It's good to go.

In the novels to come, Elinor Dashwood will morph into Anne Elliott and Elizabeth Bennet (who will morph into Emma Woodhouse); Edward Ferrars into Edmund Bertram, Mr. Knightley, Henry Tilney, and Captain Wentworth; Willoughby into George Wickham and Henry Crawford. But the characters in Sense and Sensibility stand convincingly on their own, every bit as memorable as their later avatars. If Austen doesn't have quite the Caliban-to-Ariel range of a Shakespeare, she can still conjure up and sympathize with both Mrs. Jennings-the "rather vulgar" busybody with a borderline-unwholesome interest in young people's love lives, fits of refreshing horse sense, and a ruggedly good heart-and Marianne Dashwood, a wittily observed case study in Romanticism, a compassionately observed case study in sublimated adolescent sexuality, and a humorously observed case study in humorlessness. "I should hardly call her a lively girl," Elinor observes to Edward, "-she is very earnest, very eager in all she does-sometimes talks a great deal and always with animation-but she is not often really merry." Humorlessness, in fact, may be the one thing Marianne and her eventual lifemate, Colonel Brandon, have in common. (Sorry to give that plot point away; it won't be the last one, either. So, fair warning.) The minor characters have the sort of eidetic specificity you associate with Dickens: from the gruesomely mismatched Mr. and Mrs. Palmer to Robert Ferrars, splendidly impenetrable in his microcephalic self-complacency. The major characters, on the other hand, refuse to stay narrowly "in character"; they're always recognizably themselves, yet they seem as many-sided and changeable as people out in the nonfictional world.

Elinor makes as ambivalent a heroine as Mansfield Park's notoriously hard-to-warm-up-to Fanny Price. She's affectionately protective of her sister Marianne yet overfond of zinging her: "It is not every one who has your passion for dead leaves." She's bemused at Marianne's self-dramatizing, yet she's as smug about suffering in silence as Marianne (who "would have thought herself very inexcusable" if she were able to sleep after Willoughby leaves Devonshire) is proud of suffering in Surround Sound. She can be treacherously clever, as when Lucy Steele speculates (correctly) that she may have offended Elinor by staking her claim to Edward: " 'Offended me! How could you suppose so? Believe me,' and Elinor spoke it with the truest sincerity, 'nothing could be farther from my intention, than to give you such an idea.' " Yet she can also be ponderously preachy: "One observation may, I think, be fairly drawn from the whole of the story-that all Willoughby's difficulties, have arisen from the first offense against virtue, in his behaviour to Eliza Williams. That crime has been the origin of every lesser one, and of all his present discontents." (In the rest of Austen, only the intentionally preposterous Mary in Pride and Prejudice strikes just this note: "Unhappy as the event may be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable . . ."). Is Elinor simply an intelligent young woman overtaxed by having to be the grown-up of the family? Or is she an unconsciously rivalrous sibling, sick of hearing that her younger, more beautiful sister will marry more advantageously? Or both? Or what? It's not that Austen doesn't have a clear conception of her-it's that she doesn't have a simple conception. Elinor is the character you know the most about, since Austen tells most of the story from her point of view, and consequently she's the one you're least able to nail with a couple of adjectives or a single defining moment.

Edward bothers us, too. He's a dreamboat only for a woman of Elinor's limited expectations: independent-minded yet passive and depressive, forthright and honorable yet engaged in a book-long cover-up. (It's a tour de force on Austen's part to present a character so burdened with a secret that we see his natural behavior only long after we've gotten used to him.) At his strongest and most appealing-to Elinor, at least-he's a clear-your-mind-of-cant kind of guy: "I am not fond of nettles, or thistles, or heath blossoms. . . . A troop of tidy, happy villagers please me better than the finest banditti in the world." But he can also be a Hamlet-like whiner, complaining about his own idleness and vowing that his sons will be brought up "to be as unlike myself as possible. In feeling, in action, in condition, in every thing." For my money, Edward is the least likable of Austen's heroes, while his opposite number, Willoughby, is the most sympathetic of her libertines: smarter than Pride and Prejudice's Wickham (a loser who gets stuck with the "noisy" and virtually portionless Lydia Bennet) and more warmhearted than Mansfield Park's textbook narcissist Henry Crawford. Willoughby may strike trendy Wordsworthian poses with his effusions on cottages ("I consider it as the only form of building in which happiness is attainable"), but at least he has enough sense to abhor his own callowness, and enough sexy boldness to discompose even the rational Elinor. "She felt that his influence over her mind was heightened by circumstances which ought not in reason to have weight; by that person of uncommon attraction, that open, affectionate, and lively manner which it was no merit to possess . . ." His opening line when he at last explains to her what he's been up to ("Tell me honestly, do you think me most a knave or a fool?") is one of those Byronic flourishes that make him the person in Sense and Sensibility you'd most want to dine with and least want to trust.

Continues...

Excerpted from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen Copyright © 2007 by Jane Austen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Chronology xii
Sense and Sensibility 1
About the Editor 373
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Reading Group Guide

1. Sense and Sensibility begins with a short history of Norland Park, the Dashwood family's estate. We learn that the late owner has bequeathed the property to his nephew, Henry Dashwood, since he himself was unmarried and without children. Describe Henry Dashwood's family. Who are its members? What is the dilemma that Henry's wife and daughters encounter upon his death?

2. The novel tells the story of two sisters who at first appear to be more different than similar. Elinor, the older sister, is governed by her good sense, whereas Marianne, the younger and less experienced sister, is ruled by a romantic sensibility. Compare the personalities of the two sisters further. To what do you attribute these differences? Are their personalities fixed, or do they change over the course of the novel?

3. In Chapter 13, Elinor is shocked to learn that Marianne allowed Willoughby to show her his house without a chaperon. Marianne defends her action by saying, "If there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong." Is this a valid defense? Does the novel, in the end, support or reject Marianne's notion of propriety?

4. Claire Tomalin has argued that Sense and Sensibility acts out a debate about behavior, in which Elinor represents discretion and privacy and Marianne represents emotional openness. Which side do you think wins this debate? Do you think the novel's attempts to resolve this debate are successful? Why or why not?

5. Over the course of the novel, both Elinor and Marianne experience romantic reversals: Elinor when she discovers Edward Ferrarsis engaged to Lucy Steele, and Marianne when she discovers Willoughby is to marry Miss Grey. What do these experiences teach Elinor and Marianne? Compare the reactions of each.

6. Sense and Sensibility presents a host of memorable minor characters, such as Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Ferrars, and Mrs. John Dashwood. Discuss the role minor characters play in the novel. What issues or ideas do they help illuminate for the protagonists?

7. In Chapter 17, Elinor says the following with regard to the notion of character: "I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes . . . in a total misapprehension of character in some points or other; fancying other people so much more gay or grave, or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and I can hardly tell why, or in what the deception originated. Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what others say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge." Discuss the theme of character in Sense and Sensibility. What does Elinor mean when she uses the word "character"? What, according to her, are good and bad judges of character? Does she follow her own advice? Which sort of character does the novel value?

8. Discuss the character of Lucy Steele. How would you describe her? What does she risk in telling Elinor of her engagement to Edward Ferrars? Does this seem shrewd or foolish to you?

9. At several points in the story, the characters discuss the value of "second attachments." For instance, in Chapter 17, Marianne makes plain that she does not believe a person can be in love more than once in his or her life. She says further, "At my time of life, opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should see or hear anything to change them." Discuss the irony implicit in Marianne's statement. Does the novel itself share her views? Which characters come to have second attachments?

10. Discuss the character of Willoughby. How is he punished for his decision to marry for money, in a way that someone like Lucy Steele is not? Why might this be the case?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 731 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(370)

4 Star

(200)

3 Star

(77)

2 Star

(43)

1 Star

(41)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 732 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2006

    Sense and Sensibility

    In Jane Austen¿s Sense and Sensibility, the classic tale of love and its consequences is told through the lives of the young and beautiful Dashwood sisters. Marianne, an imprudent and impulsive young lady, immediately falls in love with the handsome, yet unpredictable Mr. Willoughby, scandalously displaying her affection for him. Elinor, although always reserved and collected, also falls in love, but unlike her sister, keeps her affection for her admirer concealed even from those she dearly loves. Through the opposite characterization of the two main characters, Austen criticizes the folly of not leading a balanced lifestyle, whether it is cold and distant or spontaneous and brash. The novel also depicts the troubles caused by love in a society where wealth and social standing are top priorities. Through a variety of characters ranging from a frantic, gluttonous sister, to a humble and kind colonel, Austen condemns the social institutions of her time that encouraged the priority of wealth and status when forming an opinion of a person. Throughout the novel, readers are hooked, held in suspense as they eagerly await to discover the results of the Dashwoods¿ adventures with love. Humorous, heartbreaking, and humbling, Austen combines lessons of life, love, and society defining Sense and Sensibility as a classic.

    15 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read!

    I really love all of Jane Austen's books but Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorites! It is an endearing story of two sisters who finally get their true happiness! If only this happened in real life! If you love the book you will also love the DVD made by BBC Video and shown on Masterpiece Theatre.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    Lovely

    You can't go wrong with Austen but Sense and Sensibility is not nearly as romantic as Pride and Prejudice.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Sense and Sensibility

    This is the 2nd book that I have read from the B&N Classic list, but the first Jane Austin book. Some people have told me that her writing style is difficult to read, but I found that I had no problems. It is a classic tale of love and pain. I find it surreal that people fall in love so quickely! Or maybe the book doesn't give an accurate interpretation of the timeline. It is neither hear nor there, I actually enjoyed the first Austin novel and looking forward to the next one on the B&N list. I am curious to find out if all of her novels are about the trials of love or is there a surprise in store for me?!?!? I am a firm believer in the classics always being a perk in any book club, but reality is that I believe this is a wonderful book for a raining day, curl up with a warm blanket and a cup of hot cocoa:)
    Stay tuned for my next book review from the classic list: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Story

    This is a great book. It illustrates two types of women that are still very prominent in society today. I like the fact that it showed more than one side to everyone's personality. Great rainy day read.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2010

    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin

    SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austin is a Historical classic. It is a true classic love story. The Insight Edition has relevant information about England, their customs and Jane Austin's life during the Regency era. It has likable characters, romance, and family. If you enjoy Jane Austin this is a must read. It is one of the all classic books.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Love it

    When I first started this book, I was a bit confused, but as I read on I fell in love with the time and setting of the novel. You really fall in love with the characters and get a sense of what marriage and especially money meant in that time and how they where related to one another.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Charming...

    A charming edition to anyone's Austen library, this story contains wit and stimulating plot that leaves you fascinated with the misshaps and joys of Austen's characters. A must-read!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    Wonderful

    This novel was fantastic. Jane Austen is an amazing author, and this is a great book! Everyone should read it!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    Sense and Sensibility

    This was not one of Jane Austen's best works. It was fairly enjoyable, but the other novels were so much better. The story was very slow. The best parts were the last few chapters. I did like how Elinor became more passionate, and Marianne became more sensible. The love story was very good, but hardly worth the tedious pages.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2013

    For Those Who Enjoy Reading About Everyday Social Situations

    Sense and Sensibility was the first book I was forced to read as a young person. At the time, I hated it. I could not understand what people saw in Jane Austen. I read twenty-two chapters before I quit, and to my mind at the time, NOTHING happened. There were no murders, no life-altering circumstances, nothing dramatic. Jane Austen pretty much depicted the petty squabbles, jealousies, and annoyances of backward people. It wasn't really a romance, and yet the whole story seemed to be supported on the disappointments and triumphs in love of the two major characters.

    Many years later, I have read it--and managed to finish it. I can't believe that I was able to pick up and appreciate the social commentary that I failed to appreciate as a teenager. Though I think Pride and Prejudice is better, Sense and Sensibility has its merits. The characters are well-developed, and some are sympathetic--like Colonel Brandon.

    However, I do think this is a book that requires a person to reach a certain stage in their life where they can appreciate "people watching." It probably helps if the characters remind you of people that you know or situations you have experienced. Having been disappointed in love myself, I was able to relate to Marianne more than I could as an inexperienced teenager.

    Of course, sometimes knowing people who remind you of the characters can be a drawback if you really hate the people. However, I would say it is a definite MUST, to appreciate Jane Austen, that you be content with a book that deals with social commentary and doesn't require action or dramatic events. If you need a helicopter crash, an explosion, or someone being brutally murdered to get you through a book...then Jane Austen is definitely not for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Bad

    Do not like at all

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Liars

    The people who claim to like this book have probably never read it. They assume that watching a Jane Austen movie is the same as "reading" Austen. Pride and Prejudice is a long, boring book about nothing. You'd be better off to rent the DVD because the book can easily put an insomniac into a coma.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2012

    Boring

    This is super boring. Women will like it, but Men will not.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Poorly rendered

    With so many grammatical errors, it almost seems purposeful in an effort to force readers to buy it! But .99 for her entire works is worth the price. Save yourself the headache and pass this mess by.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    This book was very poorly transfered into a text format. It makes teading extremely dificult.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    Do not download this one

    The text is very badly scanned. There are plenty of typos and errors. Impossible to read. :(

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The BEST of Jane Austen!!

    Sense and Sensibility was written superbly well. The story is rich in details and surprises. Its dramatic, exciting, and most of all hopeful. The characters have real meaning and integrity. This book is for the hopeless romantic. My favorite of the Jane Austen novels. I would highly recommend this read for book clubs because there are many conflicts and twists that make great discussions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2000

    What a writer!

    Great story, great audiobook. Kate Winselt did a tremendous reading. Gets better everytime I listen to it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2014

    Hello everyone!!

    It's Jessica stan. I don't know if you have heard of me but I post reviews about stoping bullying. Please stop bullying you know who you are!

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