Read-Think-Talk

Monday, 10 June 2013
Sense and Sensibilityby Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
It has been 10 days since The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club started with Jane Austen's first published novel Sense and Sensibility.  A few days ago I started thinking about when I used to read books for school and the teachers would pass around study guides and/or discussion questions Perhaps I was a weird child, but I loved those! They helped me look differently at the book and engage with the story in different ways.

For all you literary lovers like me, I decided to find and share some reading discussion questions. These can be used with any book, not just Jane Austen, but perhaps they could help you write your Jane Austen Book Club blog post. You'll probably see some of my thoughts on these discussion questions in my Sense and Sensibility blog post later this month. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, and Twitter using #JaneAustenBookClub.

  1. Does the book engage you? Do you want to keep turning the pages?
  2. Why or why not?
  3. Explore the following:

Character
  • Are the characters convincing? Do they come alive for you? How would you describe them — as sympathetic, likable, thoughtful, intelligent, innocent, naive, strong or weak? Something else?
  • Do you identify with any characters? Are you able to look at events in the book through their eyes — even if you don’t like or approve of them?
  • Are characters developed psychologically and emotionally? Do you have access to their inner thoughts and motivations? Or do you know them mostly through dialogue and action?
  • Do any characters change or grow by the end of the story? Do they come to view the world and their relationship to it differently?

Plot
  • Is the story plot-driven, moving briskly from event to event? Or is it character-driven, moving more slowly, delving into characters' inner-lives?
  • What is the story’s central conflict—character vs. character...vs. society...or vs. nature (external)? Or an emotional struggle within the character (internal)? How does the conflict create tension?
  • Is the plot chronological? Or does it veer back and forth between past and present?
  • Is the ending a surprise or predictable? Does the end unfold naturally? Or is it forced, heavy handed, or manipulative? Is the ending satisfying, or would you prefer a different ending?

Point of View
  • Who tells the story—a character (1st-person narrator)? Or an unidentified voice outside the story (3rd-person narrator)? Does one person narrate—or are there shifting points of view?
  • What does the narrator know? Is the narrator privvy to the inner-life of one or more of the characters...or none? What does the narrator let you know?

Imaginative Development
  • What about theme—the larger meanings behind the work? What ideas does the author explore? What is he or she trying to say?
  • Symbols intensify meaning. Can you identify any in the book—people, actions or objects that stand for something greater than themselves?
  • What about irony—a different outcome, or reality, than expected. Irony mimics real life: the opposite happens from what we desire or intend...unintended consequences.

Thanks to LitLovers for creating this handy 'Read-Think-Talk' chart and even more thanks for giving me permission to use it!

By the way am I the only one that keeps picturing Kate Winslet as Marianne and Emma Thompson as Elinor? I probably haven't seen Ang Lee's film version since it came out in 1995 but it is obviously still stuck in my head!

Erin x

6 comments:

  1. Gina Howie said...:

    Thanks for the reading discussion questions. It will be really helpful once I finish reading and write my post. I had no idea that Ang Lee was the director for Sense and Sensibility. I don't think he was as well known then as now and I don't think I ever paid much attention to those details "back in the day". I have not been able to get the movie characters out of my head either. Good to know I am not alone.

  1. Holly Nelson said...:

    Thanks for the questions! I had forgotten that Emma Thompson played Elinor, but I do keep seeing Kate Winslet as Marianne! I had forgotten all about this story as it is always so overshadowed by other Austen books! X

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    Glad you liked them Gina, and even more glad that someone else besides me said they think about the film as well! Bonnie from A Compass Rose said the same thing.

    Erin x

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    Yeah, oddly enough I don't see Emma Thompson as Elinor as much either, but I DO see Kate Winslet as Marianne AND Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

    I agree that it is one of the overshadowed Austen novels. I'm not so sure it will be my favourite, so far I know I prefer Pride and Prejudice better. I'm really intrigued by Mansfield Park and Emma!

    Erin x

  1. Tammy Chrzan said...:

    Hi Erin,
    I just started reading last night, as you know I am a late starter to the book club. I read 9 pages and I'm embarrassed to say that it was like I was a college student again, trying hard to understand what I was reading. I've taken British Literature so it's not a stranger to me, but it has been a long time since I have indulged in such great reading that I truly had to think about what I was reading. This is not just brain jell-o, but true intellectual and heartfelt reading. I'm so glad I'm reading with you!

  1. Erin Moran said...:

    I'm glad you're enjoying reading it, me too! It does make such a difference to read with others. I recommended some books by Kate Morton to my friend and as she was reading them we would talk about it. It brings another fun element I think.

    Happy reading!

    Erin x

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