If I hadn’t known that this was written before the invention of television, I’d have thought it was a soap opera. Our Heroes, Elinor and Marianne, fall in love with eligible young gentlemen… or so it seems!
We open with the death of old man Dashwood, who tells his son John Dashwood to take care of his younger half sisters. John inherits the house and property and money, his half-sisters inherit nothing, and the mother who raised John gets nothing but her widow’s pittance. John plans to settle 1000 a year on his sisters, which is a really nice amount, but his wife Fanny assures him that they will be poverty stricken if they throw away so much money, isn’t it enough that they let the women stay in the big house instead of throwing them out? Six months later, the women leave. Fanny is happy, John is kind of embarrassed. Not enough to give them any money, though. (a rousing chorus of boos to greedy John and his greedy wife)
Nineteen year old Elinor Dashwood’s beau, Mr. Edward Ferrars, is the brother of Fanny “show me the money” Dashwood. (need a map? I’ll wait while you draw one). He can’t marry her because Mrs. Ferrars is holding out for a wealthy heiress. And, secretly, Edward has been engaged to the utterly unsuitable Lucy Steele for the last four years. Oops. Why is he mooning around Elinor? Because he fell out of love with Lucy, but he won’t break his engagement, which has to be secret from his mama, so it seems that he’s available to Elinor, but he doesn’t even tell her… Total soap opera material.
Eighteen year old Marianne, on the other hand, has two beaux. (boyfriends sounds better in the french, right?) Marianne is entirely certain that Colonel Brandon is a joke, because a) he’s old, like thirty or something! And b) had his heart broken in his youth, so he certainly can’t fall in love, because people only ever fall in love once. For sure. Says the 18 year old wise-woman.
On the other hand, John Willoughby is a manly hunter who rescues her when she slips in the rain and twists her ankle. So romantic! and he loves going on walks with her, and loves all her favorite books, and loves all of her music, and can practically finish her sentences. He has an elderly aunt living nearby on her huge estate, and shows Marianne around. They talk about where they’ll have their parties someday… not that they’re engaged or anything. Incidentally, Willoughby has a mountain of debt, aunty threatened to disinherit him if he doesn’t show some moral character by marrying someone rich enough to pay off his debt, and by the way he has a daughter by a fifteen year old girl.
The way this was all settled out was fun to follow.
The book is amazing.
They all live happily ever after, except for domestic quarrels