Listening to Sense (and Sensibility)

Portrait said to be of Jane Austen
Portrait believed to be of Jane Austen. Source: Jane Austen Rice Portrait

I confess, I find Jane Austen daunting. I do not fault Miss Austen for that: I have gotten too used to "quick reads" and the literary equivalent of the greasy spoon to easily consume the haute cuisine that are her novels. But listening to them, there's an idea! So a few months ago I downloaded Sense and Sensibility and listened to it in my car. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Elinor and Marianne are two sisters in need of husbands and money. They fall in love with men who they think would make them comfortable financially as well as emotionally, but there are many twists and hairpin curves until they end up with the right men. Elinor is reserved almost to the point of being stunted and is always trying to grease the wheels of social interactions, never mind her feelings or the truth. Marianne is histrionic almost to the point of  being mildly bipolar, and seems to have little regard for social conventions. And yet you care for them, almost as much as they care for each other.

Nadia May is one of the more prolific female audiobook readers working today, and it's not hard to see why. You always know which character is speaking.  She doesn't thump the punchlines. While I am no expert, she seems to get the class and regional dialects spot-on as well. Ms. May conveys all the warmth and obvious affection Austen felt for her characters. As with any reader worth her salt, she always enunciates clearly, and if I missed a minute or two, it was probably because I was trying to merge onto I-94.

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