This is the fourth Jane Austin novel that I've read in the past few years (although GoodReads doesn't appear to have credited me with Pride and Prejudice
), and I think I might have enjoyed it the most. Perhaps it's because I've always been in love with Emma Thompson who plays Elinore Dashwood in the video version we watch from time to time (although not nearly so frequently as we watch Pride and Prejudice
—also note that Emma T. is really a bit old to be playing a 19 year-old. None the less, when you're in love with someone, you let such things pass...).
Or perhaps it's just that I was feeling in need of something I could view as comically absurd. Because, that's how I viewed the novel: theater of the absurd. Here we have idle, useless people—every single one of them—conniving, talking at cross purposes, having fits of vapors at the drop of a hat, switching love objects, changing opinions without ever knowing their past opinions existed (Orwellian re-writing of history?), you name it. Yet, of course, much of the social commentary is still apt two hundred years later. The real "takers" in society are those who inherited their wealth and think, thereby, that they are better than everyone else. This is just as true for the Bushes, Waltons, and Romneys of today as it was for the Dashwoods and Ferrars of yesteryear. Basically useless people, some of whom are quite nice and charming, but who think themselves somehow better than those of us who weren't born to wealth, and so who have to make our own ways.
It's the classic Jane Austen story. Young women basically have no role in life except to find themselves a husband, preferably one who is well heeled. Some work out the problem by developing intellect and talent and others by guile and conniving. But of course, they also have to find themselves in the presence of marriageable young men in order to snag one. That's not such a problem if one's parents are rich, because then you're available for all the balls and outings of the social season. But, if, as the young Dashwood girls, you've come upon more "pinched" times, then a season in London is more difficult to effect, and you may have to rely on the offices of someone you would otherwise avoid at all costs.
Then too, some of the young men are looking for young women with some pecuniary resources of their own so as to shore up the young men's expensive diversions. That also creates "issues" for the Dashwood girls. It doesn't help them that one of them is overly endowed with good "sense", i.e. rational to a fault (at least from the standpoint of a pre-Victorian woman), so doesn't trust her feelings, while the other is overly endowed with "sensiblity" (in the pre-Victorian meaning), i.e. too much a slave to her feelings and not much taken to acting rationally.
Anyway, it's all good fun. Lots of chatter about potential mates, beaux, balls, outings, and so forth. Austen accompanies much of this with wry commentary on people's actual versus their stated desires and plans.