Reason and Romance (The Austen Series #2) by Debra White Smith
So I have started reading this series out of order.
But it doesn’t really matter as they don’t have to be read in a the order they were published. The books are modern day versions of Jane Austen. I started with Amanda (The Austen Series #5), which set Emma in Australia and:
To read the whole review, follow this link.
So after that I wasn’t too jazzed to read this book, a modern day version of Sense and Sensibility.
But I decided to keep an open mind and hope for the best:
Well let’s find out, shall we?
So the story takes place in Ohio, as Elaina (Elinor) and Anna (Marianne) Woods (Dashwood) have just lost their father; the family business; and due to a prenuptial agreement, their home.
Elaina, the reasonable sister, has just received her Phd and will begin teaching literature at the university the next town over.
Anna, the romantic, has not gone to college and doesn’t have a job. She lives at home with their mother, dreaming of the perfect guy to come along and sweep her off her feet.
One of the students, Ted Ferrars (Edward) in Elaina’s class, causes the always reasonable Wood to become a romantic as she finds herself captivated by his personality and character.
He turns out to be the brother of her sister-in-law, and the complete opposite with his kind and caring nature. He is a superb pianist and dreams of leading a music ministry at a church, while his family has dreams of him becoming a superstar.
While that relationship develops, Anna also finds herself with not one, but two potential love interests. When she relocates with her mother to the home they are renting from, their cousins, she is first pursued by the older, broody, Dr. Brandon (Colonel Brandon). She isn’t too interested in him as he isn’t “a romantic hero”.
Everything changes when she heads off to her new job only to have an accident and be saved by the handsome model, Will Kenney (Mr. Willoughby).
That’s what I want
Elaina sister tries to caution her to slow down, but Anna is caught up in her emotions and will not listen to any advice, only intent on doing what her heart leads her to.
Will both girls be able to allow a little reason and romance in their lives? Or will Eliana cool reason and Anna’s hot romance keep them from forming real relationships?
So what did I think?
I thought it was horrible. A lot of things just did not work or make any sense why the author went in that direction.
So let’s count them off:
A) The Story Doesn’t Work Not Having Elaina Living at Home
So in Sense and Sensibility, Elinor lives at home in the cottage, runs the household, and is able to witness Marianne’s reactions with Willoughby and advise her. In this Elaina has her own apartment in another city and it just weakens the relationship with her sister and family. All information has to be relayed by her mother instead of Elaina being able to witness what she is speaking out against and has no real clue what is going on. It also weakens the character of Elaina/Elinor as she loses her role of caregiver, which is partially why people feel secure in sharing with her their secrets. The author should have had her stay living at home, I mean it would have been easy to explain that she was worried about her grieving mother.
B) She Makes the Mom a Pushover
In the original story of Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood was in the throes of grief. She had lost her husband, income, home, most of her belongings, life, etc: all at the same time. When Fanny came along and started insisting this and that, she went along as she was sad, depressed, confused, numb, etc. In this she just gives in to everything because she “doesn’t like conflict”, which was not how it was in the book!!!
C) Hot for Teacher/Hot for Student
I don’t care how old they are I hate the teacher-student relationship. First of all it is against University policies as it could cause bias and because you are taking advantage of a relationship and power you have over the other. I don’t care that they “don’t really date”, as Elaine is intent on trying to form a relationship, something she should not have done or waited until he was no longer in her class.
D) Whatever Happened to Baby Margaret Dashwood?
So in the original novel there are three sisters, the youngest being Margaret. Why do modern adaptations always get rid of siblings and make people only children or mess up their birth place? I mean there are whole psychologies that discuss how your place in the line of family helps form your character and personality, and I think a lot of modern adaptations mess this up when they cut out the siblings.
E) Ted Cheats on His Fiancé
So in Regency time: flirting, courting, etc. was much different. In the original novel, Edward starts to fall for Elinor, and she him, and his attention causes her to think and hope he is interested. However, he never actually does anything about his feelings or makes any overtures as he is secretly engaged. In fact, most of the being lead on is from what Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne think is happening. In this, Ted actually cheats on his fiancé, clearing stating to Eliana in his actions and words that he likes her, while being engaged. I didn’t like that at all.
F) Elinor/Elaina a major flirt
In this Smith has Elaina as a major flirt with any guy that crosses her path. This is not true to her character or “reason” minded self. It also makes everyone think that she is dating Colonel Brandon, while in the book everyone knew they weren’t together and only Edward thought she was interested in him.
G) Elaina’s Favorite Book is Sense & Sensibility
Reading the book your book is based on? That’s not clever but overdone.
H) Debra White Smith is obsessed with Pantsuits
I mean seriously that is all anyone in this series wears when they “dress” up. I mean it is a Christmas party?! Why aren’t they wearing dresses?! You seriously think that the fashion conscious Anna would wear a pantsuit over a dress? At her age? Reading the fashion magazines she reads? I don’t think so.
I) Colonel Brandon and the Anna Relationship: Together in Five Minutes
So in the original novel, Marianne is dumped by Willoughby: tries to contact him with no replies; humiliated by him; tries to visit him; is taken ill; has to fight for her life; goes into recovery; is visited by Colonel Brandon; and over the time the two spend together she falls in love with him and encourages him to try to start a relationship with her.
In this Anna is sick, healed, and in love with Colonel Brandon intent on marrying him and becoming a nurse in like five minutes. It made no sense at all and I didn’t like how Colonel Brandon tells her his feelings first instead of allowing Marianne that time to overcome her heartbreak, be open to a new relationship, and fall in love with him.
J) Why a Nurse?
I don’t care if you boyfriend/fiancé is a doctor that is no reason to become a nurse! Especially, if you are bad with everything needed to become one. They should have just had Marianne continue as an interior designer, artist. or fashion designer. .
K) She Cut Out Some of the Best Parts of the Novel
Even though Sense and Sensibility has a lot of sad themes: depression, loss, grief, homelessness, poverty, dysfunctional family, heartbreak, betrayal, etc,: it also has a ton of hilarious moments as well. Like when Edward goes to tell Elinor the truth about Lucy and Lucy is there. Or when Fanny discovers the woman she has been promoting over her “plotting” sister-in-law has in fact long plotted to marry her brother!
Hilarious, comedic moments that only Jane Austen knows how to do. And they are glossed over or barely touched it.
L) Christian Fiction but Hardly Any Christian Themes
So this book says that it is “Christian” and talks about having “faith in God”, but that faith and relationship with God is never really even in the book.I mean if you want to write a Christian retelling of Emma then write it. If you want to write a non-Christian retelling of Emma then write that. Just don’t give me this lukewarm mess that is “Christian” but only a smatter. I mean go big or not at all, there is no in between.
So yeah, I did not care for this at all or found it to be a good adaptation or a good read.
Will the rest of the series be just as bad?
Keep following me to find out.
For more by Debra White Smith, go to The Austen Series: Amanda
For more on Sense and Sensibility, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen
For more Sense and Sensibility variations, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)
For more books based on Jane Austen, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras