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Archive for the ‘Sense and Sensibility’ Category

 

Spring has finally sprung here in England! I was beginning to think winter would never end; we’ve been experiencing very cold weather and lots of snow.
Jane Austen refers often to the seasons in her writing and with spring, it seems, the season often heralds a change or action of some sort. In this first example, Mrs Dashwood is thinking about Barton Cottage and the changes she might make to the building when the weather improves.


From Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility:

With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood was upon the whole well satisfied; for though her former style of life rendered many additions to the latter indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her; and she had at this time ready money enough to supply all that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments. “As for the house itself, to be sure,” said she, “it is too small for our family, but we will make ourselves tolerably comfortable for the present, as it is too late in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring, if I have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may think about building. These parlours are both too small for such parties of our friends as I hope to see often collected here; and I have some thoughts of throwing the passage into one of them with perhaps a part of the other, and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance; this, with a new drawing-room which may be easily added, and a bed-chamber and garret above, will make it a very snug little cottage. I could wish the stairs were handsome. But one must not expect everything; though I suppose it would be no difficult matter to widen them. I shall see how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring, and we will plan our improvements accordingly.”

The next extract is from Northanger Abbey. Isabella Thorpe writes to Catherine Morland from Bath. Jane Austen uses the season to illustrate Isabella’s silly and shallow character. Although she professes one minute to be missing Catherine and expressing her love for Catherine’s brother, in the next second she is talking about fashion and hats. 

Bath, April
My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters with the greatest delight, and have a thousand apologies to make for not answering them sooner. I really am quite ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid place one can find time for nothing. I have had my pen in my hand to begin a letter to you almost every day since you left Bath, but have always been prevented by some silly trifler or other. Pray write to me soon, and direct to my own home. Thank God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you went away, I have had no pleasure in it — the dust is beyond anything; and everybody one cares for is gone. I believe if I could see you I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. The spring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you can imagine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you never think of me.
 
Lastly, from Pride and Prejudice, Jane has become engaged to Mr Bingley and finds out that his sister Caroline had done everything to keep them apart last spring:


Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet

“He has made me so happy,” said she one evening, “by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible.”


   “I suspected as much,” replied Elizabeth. “But how did he account for it?”
   “It must have been his sister’s doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other.”
   “That is the most unforgiving speech,” said Elizabeth, “that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley’s pretended regard.”
   “Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again?”
   “He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty.”
   This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.
   Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.
   “I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!” cried Jane. “Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!”
   “If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time.”

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This weekend I’m off on a special trip with P and P Tours to South Devon to celebrate 200 years of Sense and Sensibility. I’m looking forward very much to meeting everyone and to staying in Barton Cottage! I’ll tell you all about it next week!

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Thank you to everyone who joined in and left such lovely comments on my blog. My husband drew the name out of the hat today, and the winner of the signed copy of Willoughby’s Return is:

                                             Mer


                                      Congratulations!

Can you please send me details of your name and address and I’ll post your prize.

Here’s a little extract from the book:


Colonel Brandon looked surreptitiously at his wife over the breakfast table. Three years on from the day they had wed had hardly changed his feelings toward her, although as he sat in secret contemplation on the matter, he swiftly acknowledged his regard for Marianne was altered in every way completely. His love for her was deeper and more passionately felt than it ever had been, he decided, and his covert glances at her over the coffee pot confirmed this in his look of sheer admiration. He watched her as she buttered a slice of toast and stirred her chocolate, before licking the fragrant cocoa from the silver spoon, her eyes closed to savour the moment.
“Marianne Brandon is a very attractive woman,” he thought, “her complexion as brilliant as when first my eyes beheld her, her smile still as sweet and in those dark eyes, her spirit and eagerness are as discernable as ever. Even the most disenchanted soul would call her a beauty.”
She looked quite contented as she daydreamed. Yet, he was disturbed by a sense that Marianne, for all her animation, was not as happy as she ought to be. Sometimes, as he watched her, he was aware that she was lost in her own thoughts, seeming to be somewhere else far away. He occasionally detected a want of spirits, discerning the escaping breath of a sigh from her lips; a sound so slight as to be hardly there at all, only perceptible to him. Any enquiries he made, however, as to her welfare, always had the immediate effect on Marianne’s composure, bringing a bright smile to her countenance once more. But there was something on her mind, he was certain. Ever since he had returned from Lyme there had been a feeling of slight distance between them but he knew she hated to talk about Eliza and Lizzy, or to hear about their life, so he had kept his silence on the subject.
“He hasn’t mentioned a word about his trip,” thought Marianne as she scraped the remains of chocolate from the bottom of her cup. “He does not wish to communicate his true interest in his other life, the one he shares with those who possess such a claim on his affections. I wish I knew how Miss Williams looks, if she is like her mother’s painting. And the child; she must be almost five years old now. Does she favour her mother or her father? But I cannot ask Brandon; I must pretend that I do not care about either of them. He would think me such an unworthy person if he could read my mind and know how I despise them for taking him away from me so often. But Elinor is right; I must bear it for his sake. And I must try harder not to think about his time spent with them and keep my counsel on the subject. After the last time when I said so much that I did not really mean, when I saw the look of hurt in his eyes, I cannot be so outspoken again.”
Marianne and Brandon from the film Sense and Sensibility
William longed to ask his wife on what she was reflecting. Indeed, any conversation would have been welcome. He wished he could talk to her about his fears for little Lizzy’s health but the last thing he wished was to upset her with any conversation of Lyme. He tried to catch her eye but failed. His reverie was disturbed by a knock at the door. James, accompanied by the nursemaid Kitty, ran into the room to jump upon his father’s knee. Marianne laughed, catching William’s eye at the same moment. He held her gaze in his and the look of love that passed between them brought a blush to Marianne’s cheek. She looked down to smooth the tablecloth with her slender fingers, aware of his lingering expression and feeling immense happiness that at last she had gained William’s full attention.
“Your mama is in very good looks today,” pronounced the Colonel to his little son, as if expecting him to understand his every word.
“William, do not tease so,” Marianne admonished with a smile, raising her eyes to his again, to be caught once more by a look that spoke of his most earnest feelings.

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As it’s Easter and we are celebrating two hundred years of Sense and Sensibility this year, I’d like to offer a signed copy of Willoughby’s Return. Please leave a comment below telling me who your favourite character is from Sense and Sensibility. The offer will be open until May 1st, 2011, and is open to everyone!

Jane Austen wrote the following letter to her sister Cassandra when she was staying with her brother in London. She was there to edit Sense and Sensibility, and she tells her sister how she is getting on with the process of corrections. It seems the weather was hot – we’re also enjoying a spell of fine weather here in England.

Happy Easter! I hope you all have a lovely holiday!

Sloane St: Thursday (April 25).

MY DEAREST CASSANDRA,
I can return the compliment by thanking you for the unexpected pleasure of your letter yesterday, and as I like unexpected pleasure, it made me very happy; and, indeed, you need not apologise for your letter in any respect, for it is all very fine, but not too fine, I hope, to be written again, or something like it.
I think Edward will not suffer much longer from heat; by the look of things this morning I suspect the weather is rising into the balsamic north-east. It has been hot here, as you may suppose, since it was so hot with you, but I have not suffered from it at all, nor felt it in such a degree as to make me imagine it would be anything in the country. Everybody has talked of the heat, but I set it all down to London.
I give you joy of our new nephew, and hope if he ever comes to be hanged it will not be till we are too old to care about it. It is a great comfort to have it so safely and speedily over. The Miss Curlings must be hard worked in writing so many letters, but the novelty of it may recommend it to them; mine was from Miss Eliza, and she says that my brother may arrive to-day.
No, indeed, I am never too busy to think of S and S. I can no more forget it than a mother can forget her sucking child; and I am much obliged to you for your inquiries. I have had two sheets to correct, but the last only brings us to Willoughby’s first appearance. Mrs. K. regrets in the most flattering manner that she must wait till May, but I have scarcely a hope of its being out in June. Henry does not neglect it; he has hurried the printer, and says he will see him again to-day. It will not stand still during his absence, it will be sent to Eliza.
The Incomes remain as they were, but I will get them altered if I can. I am very much gratified by Mrs. K’s interest in it; and whatever may be the event of it as to my credit with her, sincerely wish her curiosity could be satisfied sooner than is now probable. I think she will like my Elinor, but cannot build on anything else.

Our party went off extremely well. There were many solicitudes, alarms, and vexations, beforehand, of course, but at last everything was quite right. The rooms were dressed up with flowers, &c., and looked very pretty. A glass for the mantlepiece was lent by the man who is making their own. Mr. Egerton and Mr. Walter came at half-past five, and the festivities began with a pair of very fine soals.
Yes, Mr. Walter – for he postponed his leaving London on purpose – which did not give much pleasure at the time, any more than the circumstance from which it rose – his calling on Sunday and being asked by Henry to take the family dinner on that day, which he did; but it is all smoothed over now, and she likes him very well.
At half-past seven arrived the musicians in two hackney coaches, and by eight the lordly company began to appear. Among the earliest were George and Mary Cooke, and I spent the greater part of the evening very pleasantly with them. The drawing-room being soon hotter than we liked, we placed ourselves in the connecting passage, which was comparatively cool, and gave us all the advantage of the music at a pleasant distance, as well as that of the first view of every new comer.
I was quite surrounded by acquaintances, especially gentlemen; and what with Mr. Hampson, Mr. Seymour, Mr. W. Knatchbull, Mr. Guillemarde, Mr. Cure, a Captain Simpson, brother to the Captain Simpson, besides Mr. Walter and Mr. Egerton, in addition to the Cookes, and Miss Beckford, and Miss Middleton, I had quite as much upon my hands as I could do.
Poor Miss B. has been suffering again from her old complaint, and looks thinner than ever. She certainly goes to Cheltenham the beginning of June. We were all delight and cordiality of course. Miss M. seems very happy, but has not beauty enough to figure in London.
Including everybody we were sixty-six – which was considerably more than Eliza had expected, and quite enough to fill the back drawing-room and leave a few to be scattered about in the other and in the passage.
The music was extremely good. It opened (tell Fanny) with “Poike de Parp pirs praise pof Prapela”; and of the other glees I remember, “In peace love tunes,” “Rosabelle,” “The Red Cross Knight,” and “Poor Insect.” Between the songs were lessons on the harp, or harp and pianoforte together; and the harp-player was Wiepart, whose name seems famous, though new to me. There was one female singer, a short Miss Davis, all in blue, bringing up for the public line, whose voice was said to be very fine indeed; and all the performers gave great satisfaction by doing what they were paid for, and giving themselves no airs. No amateur could be persuaded to do anything.
The house was not clear till after twelve. If you wish to hear more of it, you must put your questions, but I seem rather to have exhausted than spared the subject.
This said Captain Simpson told us, on the authority of some other Captain just arrived from Halifax, that Charles was bringing the “Cleopatra” home, and that she was probably by this time in the Channel; but, as Captain S. was certainly in liquor, we must not quite depend on it. It must give one a sort of expectation, however, and will prevent my writing to him any more. I would rather he should not reach England till I am at home, and the Steventon party gone.
My mother and Martha both write with great satisfaction of Anna’s behaviour. She is quite an Anna with variations, but she cannot have reached her last, for that is always the most flourishing and showy; she is at about her third or fourth, which are generally simple and pretty.
Your lilacs are in leaf, ours are in bloom. The horse-chestnuts are quite out, and the elms almost. I had a pleasant walk in Kensington Gardens on Sunday with Henry, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Tilson; everything was fresh and beautiful.
We did go to the play after all on Saturday. We went to the Lyceum, and saw the “Hypocrite,” an old play taken from Molière’s “Tartuffe,” and were well entertained. Dowton and Mathews were the good actors; Mrs. Edwin was the heroine, and her performance is just what it used to be. I have no chance of seeing Mrs. Siddons; shedid act on Monday, but, as Henry was told by the boxkeeper that he did not think she would, the plans, and all thought of it, were given up. I should particularly have liked seeing her in “Constance,” and could swear at her with little effort for disappointing me.
Henry has been to the Water-Colour Exhibition, which opened on Monday, and is to meet us there again some morning. If Eliza cannot go (and she has a cold at present) Miss Beaty will be invited to be my companion. Henry leaves town on Sunday afternoon, but he means to write soon himself to Edward, and will tell his own plans.
The tea is this moment setting out.
Do not have your coloured muslin unless you really want it, because I am afraid I could not send it to the coach without giving trouble here.
Eliza caught her cold on Sunday in our way to the D’Entraigues. The horses actually gibbed on this side of Hyde Park Gate: a load of fresh gravel made it a formidable hill to them, and they refused the collar; I believe there was a sore shoulder to irritate. Eliza was frightened and we got out, and were detained in the evening air several minutes. The cold is in her chest, but she takes care of herself, and I hope it may not last long.
This engagement prevented Mr. Walter’s staying late – he had his coffee and went away. Eliza enjoyed her evening very much, and means to cultivate the acquaintance; and I see nothing to dislike in them but their taking quantities of snuff. Monsieur, the old Count, is a very fine-looking man, with quiet manners, good enough for an Englishman, and, I believe, is a man of great information and taste. He has some fine paintings, which delighted Henry as much as the son’s music gratified Eliza; and among them a miniature of Philip V. of Spain, Louis XIV.’s grandson, which exactly suited my capacity. Count Julien’s performance is very wonderful.
We met only Mrs. Latouche and Miss East, and we are just now engaged to spend next Sunday evening at Mrs. L.’s, and to meet the D’Entraigues, but M. le Comte must do without Henry. If he would but speak English, I would take to him.
Have you ever mentioned the leaving off tea to Mrs. K.? Eliza has just spoken of it again. The benefit she has found from it in sleeping has been very great.
I shall write soon to Catherine to fix my day, which will be Thursday. We have no engagement but for Sunday. Eliza’s cold makes quiet advisable. Her party is mentioned in this morning’s paper. I am sorry to hear of poor Fanny’s state. From that quarter, I suppose, is to be the alloy of her happiness. I will have no more to say. Yours affectionately,

J. A.

Give my love particularly to my goddaughter.
Miss Austen, Edward Austen’s, Esq.
Godmersham Park, Faversham.


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An unlikely trio, I hear you say, but here they all are in my post today. I found these pictures of my cats, Denzel and Marley, who love to listen to me talking about Jane Austen – yes, really. I’m not certain if Jane Austen liked cats, I suspect if the Austens had a cat, its use was probably functional. On a working farm a cat would be very useful for keeping numbers of rats and mice down.

I could only find one reference to cats in the novels in Sense and Sensibility and though Mrs Jennings voices her opinion, I can’t help wondering if Jane shared her point of view. “Ah! Colonel, I do not know what you and I shall do without the Miss Dashwoods;” – was Mrs. Jennings’s address to him when he first called on her, after their leaving her was settled – “for they are quite resolved upon going home from the Palmers; – and how forlorn we shall be, when I come back! – Lord! we shall sit and gape at one another as dull as two cats.”

A google search led me to this fun website!
Austencats

I do love my cats. They don’t have a favourite book but love to hear Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion, read aloud on a continuous loop!
Dear Friends and Passers-by, I’d love to hear about your pets. Do you love cats or are you partial to some other four-legged, or even two-legged friends?

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An unlikely trio, I hear you say, but here they all are in my post today. I found these pictures of my cats, Denzel and Marley, who love to listen to me talking about Jane Austen – yes, really. I’m not certain if Jane Austen liked cats, I suspect if the Austens had a cat, its use was probably functional. On a working farm a cat would be very useful for keeping numbers of rats and mice down.

I could only find one reference to cats in the novels in Sense and Sensibility and though Mrs Jennings voices her opinion, I can’t help wondering if Jane shared her point of view. “Ah! Colonel, I do not know what you and I shall do without the Miss Dashwoods;” – was Mrs. Jennings’s address to him when he first called on her, after their leaving her was settled – “for they are quite resolved upon going home from the Palmers; – and how forlorn we shall be, when I come back! – Lord! we shall sit and gape at one another as dull as two cats.”

A google search led me to this fun website!
Austencats

I do love my cats. They don’t have a favourite book but love to hear Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion, read aloud on a continuous loop!
Dear Friends and Passers-by, I’d love to hear about your pets. Do you love cats or are you partial to some other four-legged, or even two-legged friends?

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In celebration of the publication of Willoughby’s Return, Vic (from Jane Austen Today) and I have decided to write a series of posts as Jane Austen characters from Sense and Sensibility. Recently, Lucy Ferrars wrote a letter to Elinor Ferrars – Vic is writing as Lucy and my response shows Elinor’s thoughts and point of view! We thought it might be fun to see how these sister-in-laws might behave now they are married to Robert and Edward Ferrars.

My Dear Mrs. Ferrars, (or may I call you Elinor now that we have been SISTERS for more years than I care to admit!)

I write seemingly out of the blue, for I have been the poorest of correspondents. Unfortunately, my duties as Mrs. Robert Ferrars keep me too busy to attend to this important duty as MATRIARCH of the family (now that Mrs. Ferrars, that dearest of mama-in-laws, has been laid to rest). Be assured that I have managed to apprise myself of both your and Rev. Ferrars’ well-being through Mrs. Jennings’s cheery correspondence and through my association with Mrs. John Dashwood, whose conversations have been nothing short of ENLIGHTENING.

First, let me extend my felicities on the INCREASE of your family. How you are able to accommodate the addition of even one child, much less two, given Rev. Ferrars’ modest income, astonishes me. Your methods of economy are laudable, for I assuredly could not have contrived to be comfortable with twice the amount of his living, and yet somehow you have managed.

The purpose of my inquiry is this: It has come to my attention that Colonel Brandon is frequently away from home and that during his current absence, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have ARRIVED IN TOWN to settle Mrs. Smith’s estate. Pray tell, how is Mrs. Brandon bearing up under this new development? Is there aught I can do to help the situation, for she must be torn twixt her unresolved feelings towards her former lover and a husband whose attentions are ELSEWHERE? Pray, tell me how I can be of service to you or Mrs. Brandon.

My sincere well wishes to you, Rev. Ferrars, and your dear children. If you would be so kind as to extend my courtesies to Colonel Brandon, Mrs. Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, I would be most obliged. T’would save the cost of franking additional letters, and as you have discovered firsthand, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Ever your servant,
Lucy, Mrs. Robert Ferrars

Elinor read the letter twice through. Lucy’s relationship by marriage to Edward’s brother Robert did make her a relation, but the address of sister; she felt more than a little wanting. Lucy had made it perfectly clear from the start that Elinor held no interest for her apart from being the means by which she might be invited to the Mansion house. For her own part Elinor must admit to being ashamed that the feelings she harboured of intolerance and prejudice towards Lucy were not those that a clergyman’s wife should possess, struggling with her feelings towards the woman who had once captured her husband’s heart. But, she kept her thoughts to herself and did her utmost to keep them under regulation whilst determining to behave with due civility.

Unlike Lucy, Elinor had written regularly to her sister-in-law and her husband informing them in a general and friendly way of the news from Delaford Rectory and the Mansion house. It had never surprised Elinor that Lucy had ignored her letters, and that in the last five years Robert and Lucy had only come to Delaford once shortly after they were all married. Lucy had made no secret of the fact that she found the rectory too cramped and too plain for her taste. There had been some amusement in listening to Lucy’s plans for its improvement. Her suggestions of verandahs on two sides, and a large extension complete with bow windows festooned in lace and brocade had brought a smile to Elinor’s lips, not to mention biting them as she received her advice on colour schemes, empire fripperies and new-fangled lamps. Lucy’s taste reflected the mode of the day whereas Elinor felt far more comfortable with dear, familiar objects from the past arranged with more thought to comfort than to fashion. A chair from her father’s study held pride of place in the parlour along with his writing slope arranged on Edward’s desk. The set of her mother’s breakfast china given on the occasion of their marriage sparkled in the glass-fronted cabinet that had been in the drawing room at Norland and the walls glowed with paintings executed by the mistress of Delaford Rectory during her courtship. Colonel Brandon had been very generous but as a gentleman sensitive to the feelings of others, his interventions had been made only where he felt he could be of use without offence. The rectory was very comfortable though luxuries were few, but all who entered the house felt charmed. It was true, Reverend and Mrs. Ferrars enjoyed a modest income, but what they lacked in material wealth, they more than made up for in the accumulation of other, less worldly goods. Their fortune was founded on the simple pleasures that days spent in worthwhile service to their community bring, and in the love, respect and admiration each held for the other.

Elinor sat down in her father’s chair to stroke the scrolled arms as she had often seen him do as he sat lost in thought musing over a problem. How was she to answer this letter? Could it possibly be true that the Willoughbys had returned to the neighbourhood or was Lucy bent on making mischief as usual? And if it were true – Elinor did not want to think about the possibility. Surely Mr.Willoughby would not wish to live so closely to her mother and Margaret where the likelihood of running into them might be a daily occurrence. No, impossible, that surely could not be! Besides, she had heard nothing of the matter and she was certain if Marianne had known of it, she would have confided in her. Elinor folded the letter and consigned it to the flames roaring in the grate deciding it would be best if she simply refuted the whole affair assuring Lucy that she must be quite mistaken.

The photograph is of Teigh Old Rectory which was used for Mr Collins’ rectory in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. You can actually stay there – just imagine!

You can read our letters inspired by Lydia Bennet’s Story by clicking here

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