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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen audiobook review – the pursuit of love

Nicola Coughlan brings new life and nuance to Austen’s story of poverty-stricken sisters

The world isn’t short of audio versions of Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s first published novel, which follows the fortunes of sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood and their pursuit of love. Rosamund Pike recorded one in 2018 while Kate Winslet, who appeared in Ang Lee’s screen adaptation, did one in 2007. Juliet Stevenson recorded her version in 2004, though not before Prunella Scales and Glenda Jackson got theirs in.

Now we have another, courtesy of Derry Girls actor Nicola Coughlan, which does seem superfluous to requirements. But Coughlan’s smart and nuanced narration, in which she gives voice to the Dashwood family and their acquaintances, makes it a decent addition to a crowded market. At the start of the novel, the sisters find themselves homeless after their father dies and leaves his estate to his eldest son from his first marriage, John Dashwood. John had told his dying father that he would ensure his stepmother, Margaret, and her children were looked after. But after he reneges on the promise with the encouragement of his wife, *****, they are left high and dry, and are forced to accept an offer of a cottage from a distant cousin, Sir John Middleton. In their new home, the sisters draw the attention of suitors including the taciturn Colonel Brandon and the charismatic John Willoughby.

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