Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen's first published novel. It tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, who fall on hard times after their father dies and their half brother inherits his house and fortune. At the insistence of his wife Fanny, John Dashwood, reneges on the deathbed promise he made to his father to take care of his family, and Mrs Dashwood must take her three daughters, Margaret, Elinor and Marianne, to live on the kindness of distant relatives.
Once again Austen explores the themes that are to colour all of her romantic works – love, loss and the financial dependence of women. The three Dashwood sisters must find a suitable husband, if they are to be both accepted in society and not become a burden to their families. Elinor must accept the heartbreaking loss of Mr Ferrars to an unwise previous engagement. Marianne must come to terms with her passion for the dangerously attractive, but unsuitable Willoughby. They must all come to the point where their hearts and heads must put sense over sensibility.