Warning: This review will mention elements of the story with the idea you've read this book before.
I've been waiting to write that line forever. Sense and Sensibility is the first Austen book I ever read and I was less then thrilled by it. Fortunately, I gave her a 2nd try with Pride and Prejudice or I'd have never bothered to read another of her books. After reading Persuasion and Among the Janeites recently, I decided to give S&S a second chance.
...and my opinion stands.
First let me say, this is not a bad book. The characters are good and Austen's descriptions are numerous and pointed, and the overarching plot is interesting and works well. However, the pacing is...bad. P&P's plot moves in a straight line and everything falls together in a timely manner. S&S is like this:
Descriptions of characters happen over and over (and over) again while the text plods, goes off on tangents, and does everything but move at a good pace. There were days I simply couldn't face reading this book.
When I actually picked it up, I usually enjoyed it but it often felt like swimming against to flow of a river of molasses.
The characters have always been a strong point of this book for me. Elinor and Marianne are great contrasts of each other. I remember when I first read this (closer to M's age), I had little patience with M's carrying on and how stupid everyone was to think well of Willoughby (I figured out right away he was no good). Part of it, I will confess, was how little she cared for Colonel Brandon who was my favorite from the first. Elinor, however, I didn't really get either. This time, I understood and to some extent sympathized with them more. I found a new dislike for their mother - she is of little help to either of them and all but takes advantage of E. - and my issues with Fanny grew. That woman is cold and...yes, evil towards them. You simply didn't (and don't) treat people like that, not when they were family, even if the bonds are half blood.
It was Lucy, however, where my loathing truly grew. I didn't think I could dislike that b...witch more but I gained a whole new understanding of just what kind of game she was playing. She makes Fanny seem kind with her machinations of the people around her. The Bennett girls might have had to play the marriage game carefully to raise their status but not even Lydia used people and slyly attacked them like Lucy does here. (Lydia has her own issues but one can at least give her this credit.)
I'm glad I gave this another go and plan to read it again in a decade or so. But it remains my least favorite of her books and I don't really expect that to change as I read the rest of her books for the first time.
Happy readings, y'all!