Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton

This novel is a modernization of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and my knowledge of that novel is a little rusty, limited only to watching the movies a last year, so while I've picked up some similarities, I can't fully comment on how accurately it pulled off the adaptation. Beyond being an adaptation, accurate or not, this novel was one that I didn't want to put down. It was a really smooth read with characters that I felt for and plot lines that drew you in.

Ellie, Abby, and Georgie are three sisters who live in a lush house with their divorced mother. Their father still pays the bills but when they visit him and his annoying new wife, he seems tired and troubled by something. When he dies a few days later from a heart attack, the girls learn that he was having financial troubles and put their house in his wife's name to cover a bad investment. With her the new owner of the house, the girls are forced to move to a small village. As the girls adapt to this new life, they find themselves in their own little trials of love. Ellie has fallen for Blake, her stepmom's nephew who, while pursuing her with earnest, seems to have a girlfriend that he can't seem to get rid of. While Abby tried to help her new friend Chloe win Nick's affections, Nick falls in love with Abby. In the meantime, Abby has a relationship with Hunter who seems too good to be true. Georgie, the tomboy of the group has a new friend who just might want to be more than friends.

This novel proved to be really enjoyable without what I would consider soap opera moments. Abby is a bit dramatic at times, but that's her character, a drama queen. I still felt that her situations were believable and not at all over the top. Ellie is supposed to be the reserved character, but I felt that she did give into her emotions more so than Jane Austen's Elinor. I wish that Georgie has a bigger role. I know that Sense and Sensibility focused on the two older sisters and so Georgie's storyline was probably thrown in for fun, but it could have been developed more. I would have like to know more about why she made her final decision. To me it came out of nowhere.

Seeing as my knowledge of the original isn't fresh to compare the book, I'm not boggled down by how the book failed to smoothly adapt. If you don't even consider this book an adaptation, it is a really good book. It's a nice fast summer read without being shallow and full of fluff. I would definitely recommend this novel.

Since reading this novel, I have read Sense and Sensibility and there are some stark contrasts. Lucy isn't vindictive in the original and the Hunter character (Willoughby) isn't half as selfish in his wants and hurtful in his actions. Brandon isn't as pushy as Nick and other comparisons abound but it doesn't distract from the enjoyment of the book, unless you're reading it as Sense and Sensibility. It's inspired by the novel but not the same novel except in modern times (although I can see how certain changes occur to fit in modern times). Basically, forget everything you know about the original beyond Elinor being reserved and in love with one man who has a girlfriend and Marianne (Abby) being a drama queen who has one man whose affections she doesn't return and another love of her life who breaks her heart. These similarities remain but the telling is up for interpretation, as in any interpretation of a novel, whether it be a retelling or a movie. I must insist that: THIS IS A GOOD BOOK! READ IT WITHOUT A THOUGHT OF JANE AUSTEN. ANY COMPARISON WILL KILL IT!

No comments: