Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - retold by Gill Tavner

Sense and Sensibility

Written by Jane Austen - retold by Gill Tavner
Part of the Real Reads Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Will Elinor’s sense be strong enough to support both sisters, or will Marianne’s sensibility bring tragedy? This and the other retellings by Real Reads are a fantastic way to introduce young children to some of the best-known and best-loved classics; beautifully presented and skilfully retold (and condensed – 64 pages in total) and illustrated, they are true to the original plot, capture something of the flavour and tone of the original work, while simplifying the narrative and dialogue. They’re primarily aimed for younger readers – 8-13 year olds but are also a great ‘quick fix’ for teenagers and adults.

The Lovereading comment:
What is it about Jane Austen? How did a fairly ordinary woman who lived two hundred years ago, and who nobody took that much notice of in her own short lifetime, become so famous?
We feel it’s because she questioned. She explored what really mattered in life and relationships. She was one of the first women to write about what women really wanted. That’s a question which is just as important today as it was then, which may be why her books are just as popular now as they ever have been.
Jane was an intelligent, witty and observant writer who loved stories. From a very early age she was encouraged to read and write, and wrote her first novel in her teens. Though Jane never really left home, the fact that she didn’t marry and have children gave her the time to write and the freedom to move within the different circles of people she described so vividly.
And though she was only aware of some of what was happening in the wider world, Jane lived in exciting times, in many ways not unlike our own. After long centuries when little had changed in England, people were starting to think more about important social issues like freedom, personal responsibility, and the relationship between love and duty. Tastes in art, architecture and literature were changing rapidly, from a more formal and rigid ‘classicism’ to a freer and more adventurous ‘romanticism’.
The year of Jane Austen’s birth, 1775, was also when the great landscape painter John Turner was born, when the American Revolution began, and when James Watt invented the steam engine, the machine which would transform the Victorian landscape. In Jane’s lifetime the French Revolution took place, Britain lost its American colonies, and a new British colony was established at Botany Bay in Australia. Ludwig van Beethoven, Josef Haydn and Leopold Mozart were all composing; William Wordsworth, John Keats and Percy Shelley were writing their best-known poetry. What a time to be alive!

To take a look at the other classic novels published by Real Reads click here.


Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - retold by Gill Tavner

Marianne is ablaze with fire and passion; Elinor keeps her own heat under control. Marianne seeks a man who shares her eager spirit; Elinor is in love with the polite, considerate Edward Ferrars. Their younger sister Margaret watches in bewilderment as Marianne and Elinor experience the joys and heartaches of early adult life. Is Marianne too warm or is Elinor too cold? Whose example should Margaret follow? Margaret records the dangers presented by scheming friends and deceitful lovers. Will Elinor’s sense be strong enough to support both sisters, or will Marianne’s sensibility bring tragedy? What will you learn as you read Margaret’s account?


This version of Sense and Sensibility makes me think afresh about what it meant to be a young girl in Austen s time, wondering what the future would bring. It s an excellent introduction to the novel for young readers. Respectful, smart, and playful, Gill Tavner s Real Reads adaptations belong with the very best of the many reinterpretations of Austen s novels.

About the Author

Jane Austen - retold by Gill Tavner

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775, at the rectory in the village of Steventon in Hampshire, England. The youngest but one of eight children, she was educated mainly at home and never lived apart from her family. She played a lot with her brothers, but was closest to her older sister, Cassandra. The children wrote and performed plays to amuse themselves, and even as a little girl Jane was encouraged to write.

When she was fourteen she wrote her first novel, Love and Freindship (yes, she couldn’t spell!), and then a rather ambitious History of England. In her early twenties Jane Austen wrote the novels that were later to be published as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

Jane loved dancing, and went to balls in many of the great houses of the neighbourhood. She adored the countryside, so was horrified when her father announced to the sixteen-year-old Jane that the family would be moving to Bath. Jane hated the confines of a busy town and missed Steventon. To make matters worse, her father died in 1805, which left the family very poor. Then, while on holiday, Jane fell in love, but the young man died soon afterwards, leaving her deeply upset.

The family could not afford to stay in Bath, so Jane moved to Southampton with her sisters and mother to live with naval brother Frank and his wife Mary. Her favourite brother, Henry, was a prosperous banker in London, and Jane often went to stay with him, enjoying art exhibitions and visits to the theatre.

In July 1809 her brother Edward offered his mother and sisters a permanent home on his Chawton estate, back in the Hampshire countryside. It was a small but comfortable house with a pretty garden, and it provided the settled home which Jane needed in order to write. She revised Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, and then embarked on a period of intensive writing which produced MansfieldPark and Emma. Persuasion and a rewritten version of Northanger Abbey were published in 1818, the year after her death. In her last years she suffered from a kidney illness called Addison’s Disease, for which there was no cure. As she could not walk far, she used a little donkey carriage which can still be seen at the Jane Austen Museum at Chawton. Jane died in her sister Cassandra’s arms in the early hours of 18 July 1817. She was 41 years old.

None of Jane’s books published in her lifetime had her name on them — they were always described as being written ‘By a Lady’.

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Book Info


64 pages


Jane Austen - retold by Gill Tavner
More books by Jane Austen - retold by Gill Tavner


Real Reads

Publication date

14th February 2008




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