The Sense and Sensibility Guide To Life

What we can learn from the adventures and entanglements of the Dashwood sisters…

The Dashwood Sisters

RELATIVES AND MONEY DON'T MIX

When Mrs Dashwood's husband died, she and her daughters - Marianna, Elinor and Margaret - were promised a big healthy chunk of the inheritance. Instead, the greedy and cunning machinations of another relative meant the poor Dashwood clan were left with almost nothing at all. The moral of the story? Don't trust members of the extended family with vast sums of money that's rightfully yours. Especially if they're a sly in-law called Fanny.

AGE GAPS DON'T MATTER

Let's face it, there was a wee bit of a gap in the ages of Colonel Brandon and Marianne Dashwood. She'd only just entered adulthood, and he was a strapping soldier in his 30s. But you know what? He's so noble and heroic and selfless and lovely that he made their eventual courtship seem just fine. So bear that in mind when you're sizing up a romantic prospect who's not exactly in your immediate age-range. Bonus points if they wear long flowing overcoats and look like David Morrissey.

Sense and Sensibility

Mark Williams and the fun of period drama.

IF IN DOUBT, RECITE POETRY

We've all been there. You're in the middle of flirting with someone you really fancy, and suddenly your mind goes blank and your mouth starts to flap with no words coming out. Calm down and just recite some poetry. Preferably the Romantics - think Byron or Shelley or someone sexy like that. It worked a charm for Willoughby, and basically made Marianne fall for him before he got to the end of the first verse. (Disclaimer: his glinting eyes and raven locks also may have helped.)

LONDON IS OVERRATED

London has a way of thinking of itself as the centre of the world, and that went double in the time of the Dashwoods, when the smartest members of high society liked to flutter around all the exclusive balls. But Marianne had a rude awakening when she went to stay in the capital, finding it downright annoying. And she's right. London IS overrated. Particularly when it's currently home to some utter rotter you're hopelessly besotted with (we're looking at you, Willoughby).

ALWAYS LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH

Here's a tip for anyone currently a-courting. If Mr or Ms Perfect shows up on the second date bearing a stupidly stupendous and expensive gift, smile politely, turn around, and scarper. It's a sure sign they're either a) crazily obsessed or b) covering up some terrible guilty conscience about some other person they've recently seduced and dumped. Exhibit A: when Willoughby presented Marianne with a beautiful white horse about six seconds after first meeting her. A simple flower would have sufficed, boy.

BEWARE OF LOVELY MEN

Look at the three main love interests in Sense and Sensibility. The two loveliest ones were John Willoughby and Edward Ferrars, with their pretty puppydog looks and gallant flirtations. The less obviously lovely one was Colonel Brandon, who looked stern and even sulky a lot of the time. But guess who turned out to be the ONLY one without any dodgy secrets and furtive attachments to other women? Yep: good old Brandon. What he lacked in floppy hair, he made up for in being pure husband material.

HIKING IS BAD AND MAY KILL YOU

Like the idea of going for a long, refreshing walk in the countryside? Well don't! If Marianne is any indication, going for a healthy hike can be extremely hazardous to your health. The first time we saw her go on one of those, she fell over and twisted her ankle. Then, later on, she went on another walk, got caught in the rain, and literally almost died from a fever while her panic-stricken family gathered around. Admittedly, this may be more Marianne's own staggering inability to walk anywhere without doing herself a mischief, but let's just be on the same side and stay on our sofas for now, OK?

What makes great costume drama?