Sense and Sensibility - Nadia May, Jane Austen It's been quite a while since I last read Sense and Sensibility and this is the first time I've listened to it on audiobook. As I listened to Nadia May's excellent narration, I realised that there was much I'd forgotten about the book since I last read it.

I had certainly forgotten the flashes of humour and the sharpness of the satire. For example, Austen is particularly pointed in her descriptions of the indulgence with which the less satisfactory mothers amongst her characters (Fanny Dashwood, Lady Middleton) treat the misbehaviour of their offspring. These scenes are laugh-out-loud funny. However, they also made me think how often Austen must have been exposed to the ill-disciplined children of her acquaintances!

There is arguably more social commentary in Sense and Sensibility than in Austen's other novels. While the dependence of single women and the devastating potential effect of inheritance laws is also central to the plot of Pride and Prejudice, it is in Sense and Sensibility that the actual effect is felt most keenly in the situation of the Mrs Dashwood and her daughters.

Primarily, though, Sense and Sensibility is about relationships - relationships between sisters, between mothers and children, between friends. It is these relationships, good and bad, positive and negative which form the core of the novel. They are more important than the ultimate romantic pairings and just as important as the theme suggested by the title, that is, the different approaches to life of those with contrasting temperaments.

Indeed, in my view, the romantic pairings form the least satisfactory element of the novel. The resolution of the relationship between Elinor and Edward is brought about by the somewhat unsatisfactory deus ex machina of Lucy Steele's decision to exchange one brother for another. And to my mind the union of Marianne and Colonel Brandon is problematic, notwithstanding Austen's explanation that Marianne grew to love her husband. . While expected in such a novel, the romantic relationships do not have the same impact as those of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth or even of Emma Woodhouse and Mr Knightley.

Overall, I've appreciated Sense and Sensibility much more this time around than I have on previous readings. While it does not have the same emotional effect on me as my favourite Austen novel - Persuasion - it remains a masterpiece.