Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility Bath Bicentenary Edition

It has been a year of Sense and Sensibility for me.  Ever since I took part in Austenprose's Bicentenary Challenge at the beginning of the year I have been exposed to many different and colourful versions of this literary classic.  I have been lucky enough to end this special year with a brand new edition of the book, the Bath Bicentenary Edition.

The story is the same classic we have grown to love.  A tale of two sisters dealing with family hardships as well as the toils of love all at once.  The introduction by Katharine Reeve is eye-opening in terms of just how eighteenth century the book actually is.  While it may not have been published until 1811, the manuscript for Sense and Sensibility, or Elinor and Marianne, was written fifteen years before, around the year 1795.  It contained an underlying commentary (or even criticism) on the eighteenth century fashion for sensibility which by the turn of the new century was slowly losing steam.  Yet the book was originally written in the style associated with the sentimental novel, in epistolary form.  Luckily, Jane scrapped that idea to trade it in for the lovely version we have today.

And what a lovely version we are blessed with 200 years later!

The Bicentary edition delivers all sorts of the gooey Austen prettiness that Janites crave.  Now that I work in an office full of Janites I had to keep slapping their hands away from this book! Why? Well firstly, the book is a hardcover edition of Sense and Sensibility.  Within the covers will you not only find Austen's classic tale but the beautiful colour illustrations of Niroot Puttapipat who depicts the characters in the popular fashions of 1795.  Does Puttapipat draw a hot Colonel Brandon? You bet your sweet bonnet he does!  What I especially like was that aside from the large colour plates that are dispersed throughout the book, there are also smaller silhouette illustrations, adding that lovely essence of the Regency period to a Regency book.  For a preview of the illustrations I have been gushing about, check out this video.

The book is out now, just in time for holiday shopping.  It would make a fabulous present for any Janite in your life, even if that Janite is you!


  1. Those illustrations are luscious! I really must have a copy of this gorgeous book.

  2. I'd also recommend checking out the artist gallery at Deviantart. He has images of many period works that he's done (my favorite is the Twelve Princesses). The best part is that he actually researches the clothing well, I've recognized originals many times.

  3. Oh my goodness! I'm overdosing on pretty now!

  4. ...and thanks for the link on his page ;)

  5. The illustrations are extremely inaccurate. Noting annoys me more than getting the dating on the costume wrong. Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811. The costumes shown in the book are at at least 25 - 30 years earlier. Jane Austen was quite fashion conscious. Who on earth approved such a fiasco. I don't understand this need to corrupt Regency fashion with some trumped up idea of romantic Georgian that never existed. I would never buy this book.

    I'm working on a book about American fashion from 1860-1910, and have gone through at least 10,000 photos - I have about 2000 in the book. In order to put my time frame into perspective, I've had to go through hundreds of Regency era designs, fashion plates, and portraits. The information to do a beautiful accurate illustration for Jane Austen is out there.

    I can't imagine how the illustrator managed to sell the product and get away with it.

    The Pink Flamingo

  6. I was given the impression that the illustrator chose to set his images around 1795, the time when Austen first wrote the manuscript. It's too bad the book was disappointing to you!

  7. What a lovely book. I am going to buy it as soon as possible. Happy holidays, dear Heather.