SPOILER WARNING: The thing I did like about this book is that it's Jane Austen, and she always will entertain you without dragging you through any horrible ordeals. If there's a war going on, we won't hear the heart-wrenching stories of orphans, squalor, and agony. The only way we 'll know about it is that soldiers look so handsome in their uniforms and some girls flirt with them shockingly. In the end, we always know that our heroine will get married and live happily ever after. Sorry if that spoils them for anyone.
What I *don't* like about this one is that the sensible steady Elinors of the world don't really understand the passionate impulsive Mariannes at all, and so they're quite ungracious to them. This is definitely written from the point of view of an Elinor. I suppose since so many novels are written by the Mariannes, it's only fair for the Elinors to have just ONE from their point of view, still, as a Marianne myself I think Jane got it all wrong here. To me the ending stank horrifically. The "answer" was for Marianne to become someone she wasn't and marry someone she didn't love and be content with that. It makes me choke to think of it. The suicide at the end of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", which the director called "the Chinese 'Sense and Sensibility'", was much truer to what the Marianne character would have done, I think. In the novel, though, she chose to do it by killing her true self and living a lie. Colonel Brandon deserved better than that, I think, and so did Marianne herself.
Not all Willoughbys turn out to be bad hats, in other words. The answer, in my opinion, was for her to find a good Willoughby.
Thinking about this novel has made me revisit the silly simpering flirty flighty girls that Jane is always showing us we DON'T want to be like. The mother and the sisters, for instance, in Pride and Prejudice. I think Jane paints them as though they aren't real people at all, as though their thoughts and dreams are somehow those of lesser beings. I think there's a great deal to question there, and perhaps the lack of understanding on Jane's part is as much the problem as the girls' behavior. Sense and Sensibility shows that struggle directly, as we're given a much fuller portrait of Marianne's personality than we ever are of the Bennett younger sisters.