“Sense and Sensibility” Book Summary and Reviews | Written by Jane Austen (1811)

Sense and Sensibility book summary

“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen is a classic novel that delves into the lives and relationships of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, as they navigate the challenges and complexities of love, societal expectations, and personal growth in 19th-century England.

The novel opens with the death of Henry Dashwood, leaving his second wife, Mrs. Dashwood, and her three daughters—Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret—in a precarious financial situation. They are forced to leave their family estate and rely on the generosity of distant relatives. The story follows the contrasting personalities of the sisters: Elinor represents sense, practicality, and emotional restraint, while Marianne embodies sensibility, passion, and romantic idealism.

As the Dashwood sisters settle into their new life in a small cottage, they encounter a range of characters who shape their romantic prospects. Elinor forms a deep connection with Edward Ferrars, but their love is tested by Edward’s secret engagement to another woman. Meanwhile, Marianne is pursued by the charming but unreliable John Willoughby, who ultimately breaks her heart. Both sisters must grapple with disappointment, heartbreak, and societal expectations as they seek love and happiness.

Jane Austen’s writing style in “Sense and Sensibility” is characterized by her keen observation of social dynamics, sharp wit, and insightful commentary on the restrictions placed upon women in society. Her prose is elegant and precise, filled with subtle irony and nuanced character development. Austen masterfully depicts the nuances of human nature, exploring themes of love, class, and personal growth against the backdrop of a carefully constructed society.

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The novel is a must-read for several reasons. 

First, it offers a rich portrayal of Regency-era society, capturing the manners, expectations, and social hierarchies of the time. Austen’s characters are vividly drawn, their dialogue and interactions reflecting the complexities of human relationships. 

Second, “Sense and Sensibility” explores timeless themes such as love, heartbreak, resilience, and the pursuit of happiness, making it relatable across generations. 

Lastly, Austen’s storytelling and wit make the novel a delightful and engaging read, drawing readers into the lives of the Dashwood sisters and their romantic entanglements.

Here are a few notable quotes from “Sense and Sensibility”:

  1. “Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.” – Elinor Dashwood
  2. “To love is to burn, to be on fire.” – Marianne Dashwood
  3. “We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” – Mrs. Dashwood
  4. “It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone.” – Elinor Dashwood

Reader Reviews:

“Austen’s ability to delve into the complexities of human emotions is unparalleled. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is a delightful exploration of love, family, and societal expectations. I was captivated by the sisters’ journeys and found myself emotionally invested in their fates.” – Emma W.

“I adore Austen’s wit and satire. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is a charming and insightful portrayal of the era. However, I found the characters’ lack of agency frustrating at times, especially when it came to their limited choices in matters of love and marriage.” – Thomas R.

“Jane Austen’s keen eye for social commentary shines through in ‘Sense and Sensibility.’ The novel is a brilliant portrayal of the clash between rationality and emotion, and the constraints faced by women in Austen’s time. It is a timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with readers today.” – Elizabeth H.


Overall, readers appreciate Jane Austen’s ability to create vivid characters and examine the complexities of human nature within the confines of society. The wit, social commentary, and exploration of love and personal growth make “Sense and Sensibility” a beloved classic. It appeals to those who enjoy romance, societal critique, and a glimpse into the intricacies of Regency-era England.

About the author

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist known for her insightful and satirical portrayals of 19th-century society. She is celebrated for her works, including “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma,” and “Sense and Sensibility.” Austen’s novels continue to be widely read and cherished for their enduring themes, sharp social commentary, and memorable characters. Her writing style and contributions to literature have solidified her status as one of the most influential and beloved authors of all time.

Books by Jane Austen