Elinor and Marianne Dashwood grew up in the family estate of Norwood, with their mother, father, and younger sister. When their father dies, the estate goes to their older half brother John, and his wife Fanny. Fanny makes sure they get very little money from John, and generally makes things difficult, so Mrs Dashwood and the 3 girls move away to a cottage near the estate of a friendly distant cousin Sir John Middleton.
Sir John introduces them to many new people, including Colonel Brandon, a reserved gentleman who shows a fondness for Marianne.
Elinor quietly mourns the loss of her relationship with Edward Ferrars (Fanny's brother), who she no longer hears from. And Marianne promptly falls head over heels for John Willoughby, the dashing young nephew of the middletons who is not quite a sensible choice in the end.
The book begins in typical Austen fashion, with a sort of quick recap of the story so far, then really begins just as the Dashwoods are moving away from Norwood. As such I never really felt Elinor's true feeling for Edward. It's all related as a past occurance, and between two somewhat shy characters it's hard to see any great feeling anyway. So that really doesn't have any great impact on where I hoped things were going for Elinor. Pride and Prejudice's Darcy and Elizabeth was subtle, but in it's own way momentous, not like this.
And Marianne is hard to like because she's fairly superficial.. not to say she's not intelligent, but she's not very sensible.. but then thats the point of the character. She's just difficult to relate to. I could see her attraction to Willoughby, but I couldn't agree with it, the Colonel was the more interesting prospect from the beginning.
The side characters are probably the most interesting in all this. Mrs Jennings is the mother-in-law of Sir John, she's a very friendly, and well-meaning person, but she says some really rude and socially unacceptable things sometimes.
And Mr and Mrs Palmer are probably the most funny and entertaining. Mrs Palmer being the younger sister of Lady Middleton, is an extremely positive young lady, and Mr Palmer is really dour, and rude, but not in an unclever way. Their interactions were always funny to read. He never says anything well-meaning, but she takes it all as a joke. Probably the highlight of the book.
Overall, I think it was a fairly good read, but, not my favourite Austen. The main characters just didn't click with me.