by Robin Spano
This week's question: What classic novels have struck you as naked emperors? (Dead authors only, so as not to upset any living colleagues.)
My answer: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I read it expecting a thrilling old English love story. But with each page I flipped, I could never figure out why the hype.
The characters showed hints of being interesting, and there were some great lines with astute social commentary. The plot was static, but I kept reading because I thought there must be something more—something big about to happen to make all the boring parts make sense. It's a classic, after all. And SO many people love Jane Austen—love her, like modern day Twilight fans.
But I never felt the book or its characters get real. I closed the last page with a thud of disappointment. The characters stayed flat, I couldn't get emotionally invested in either protagonist's love story. The plot did nothing interesting. The book just never delivered for me.
BUT it was Austen's first novel. I've grown a lot since writing my first novel, and I was intrigued enough by the introspection in this book to think that maybe as she went along, she honed her craft and got better too. I loved the movies Pride and Prejudice and Clueless (which was based on Austen's Emma).
So while I won't recommend Sense and Sensibility, not at all, I've just talked myself into giving Jane Austen another chance.
I think I'll start with Persuasion, her last novel. The end of her writerly growth arc.