Book Review

Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson


Title: Sense and Sensibility The Screenplay and Diaries
Author: Emma Thompson
Publication Info: Newmarket Press July 10, 2007
ISBN: 978-1557047823
Genre: Nonfiction

Book Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson You know how sometimes you’re on Amazon, and you go into a fugue state, and then two days later (Gotta love Prime!) boxes start arriving at your house?  This was in one of those boxes. 

In honor of the Patron Saint of this awards season’s red carpet, Emma Thompson, Our Lady Of the No Fucks Left To Give, we will be discussing her screenplay and diaries from Sense and Sensibility.

Emma Thompson tossing her shoes over her shoulder at the Golden Globes

There have been posts going around tumbr that contain excerpts.  We all knew that Emma was amazing, right, but this just soldifies her awesomesauce.   


Emma Thompson photobombing Lupita Nyong'o on the Red Carpet


(So did that moment.  Also the fact that she was wearing flats.  There's been so much “I am not here for your sexist bullshit” from the women on the red carpets this season.) 

She's said in interviews that writing the screenplay to S&S helped her regain her sense of self and gave her something to focus on other than the depression after her divorce from Kenneth Branagh, and there's a sense of that in the diary entries.  (There's also a hysterically funny story about going over to Stephen Fry's hosue after her computer crashed with no backup to try and recover the files.  Because why WOULDN'T you go to Stephen Fry?)

I really like reading scripts for movies I've seen and loved, because I can hear all the voices in my head.  “Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall go mad” in Alan Rickman's quiet, desperate voice (or as Emma put in the stage direction, “he is dangerously quiet.” 

I also love seeing the stage directions and seeing how the director and the actors interpret the screenwriter's vision.  Plus Emma's accounts of the meetings where she, Ang Lee, and the producers went through the script and determined what they could afford and what they couldn't are amazing. Emma had an idea about a fox hunt, which would have required a trained fox, brought up from birth, or possibly, “…hiring David Attenborough, who probably knows a few foxes well enough to ask the favour.”

Basically, the woman is a gem. 

Tuesday 18 April:

Slept like the dead. Seared mouth on very hot porridge at breakfast with Lindsay [the producer]. We discussed the 'novelization' question.  This is where the studio pay someone to novelise my script and sell it as Sense and Sensibility.  I've said if this happens, I will hang myself. Revolting notion.  Beyond revolting.

She talks about working with Ang Lee (“The acting in England is much better than the food.”) and East/West devide that was inevitable.  She talks about a young Kate Winslet, getting her first notes from Ang (“You'll get better”) and working herself nearly to death. She smirks with glee about getting to kiss Hugh Grant. (“Can't rely on Austen for a snog.  Glad I invented it.”)  There's so much delight about getting to do the job, but it's hard bloody work. 

We get some insights into Alan Rickman (he scares cats) and Hugh Laurie, who along with Hugh Grant said he was never acting with the screenwriter again. 

Another thing I like is all the mentions of Greg Wise, who she met during shooting and they are still married.  Maybe I'm reading into the studiously neutral mentions, but there are a LOT of them.  It's kind of cute. Okay, it's very cute. Alright, it's fucking adorable. 

Apparently, there's a ridiculous amount of alcohol involved in making a movie.  Who knew? 

Yeah, it's not a romance novel, but it's DELIGHTFUL and you should all read it. 

I'm going to leave you with Emma's acceptance speech from the 1995 Golden Globes, proving that she's been the Best forever.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Stephanie says:

    I wish Emma Thompson was my best friend and this is one of my favorite adaptations of Austen’s work so this looks amazing!  I had no idea it existed so thanks for the heads up! Did they really consider novelisation – what is wrong with some people??

  2. 2
    HJ says:

    I bought this book years ago (when it came out, I think) and loved it for the same reasons as you!  I felt when the film came out that Emma T had really rejuvenated herself and was amazed at just how good the screenplay was.  In particular I remember really appreciating and understanding the Lucy Steele character so much better after seeing the film and reading the screenplay and diary.

  3. 3
    woolly3 says:

    S&S is by far the most perfect film ever made, and Jane Austen would agree with me. Didn’t know this book was available, but will get it instantly.

  4. 4
    chacha1 says:

    I’ve had this ever since it came out and I love it, if possible, even more than I loved the movie.  Emma T is my idol (as well as being IMO one of the ten most beautiful celebrity women on the planet).

  5. 5
    laj says:

    Loved this review, Redheadedgirl. Thank you.

    Best Austen Adaptation Ever! Love Emma T. with all my heart.

    Whenever I feel blue I always watch Sense and Sensibility, I believe it might be my favorite movie. “Then, you are not married?” I sob every time.

  6. 6
    SB Sarah says:

    I screwed up the date post on this one – so if you’re wondering what the hell happened, the switch on the posted date was my fault. Sorry!

  7. 7
    Darien Gould says:

    The commentary with Emma on “Sense and Sensibility” us the most interesting, informative and funny commentary on any movie I’ve ever watched…and I’ve watched a lot!! I will definitely have to check out this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  8. 8
    peggy h says:

    I found this book soon after the movie came out in some sale (may have been, or not!)  I don’t normally buy books like this, but I love Emma T so much I couldn’t resist, and it’s definitely a book that kept me interested (and laughing).  Her story of how Ang Lee told her she would “get better” is hilarious!  And also very telling that she would share such a tale. 

    Thanks for this—I think I’m going to pull this book out again to re-read!  :)

  9. 9
    Elyse says:

    Amazon fugue state made me LOL on a conference call. I love Emma Thompson. Definitely buying this

  10. 10
    Chris says:

    I love this book. I believe it’s the one where the actors were supposed to write “letters” in character as their character to another character in the book/movie (to understand their role better) and she published the one the actress who played ” Lucy Steele” did to her character and it’s pretty darn funny.

  11. 11
    azteclady says:

    Emma Thompson is one of those people who makes me happy by simply existing. Thank you for this review, I’ll be on the lookout for an affordable (to me) copy.

  12. 12
    CarrieS says:

    love the review and love Emma!

  13. 13
    MissB2U says:

    @azteclady – you said it perfectly!  That’s just how I feel about the wonderful Emma T.

  14. 14
    Ashlea says:

    Have had this for years and loved the insight into moviemaking and Emma generally. Also introduced me to the all-purpose phrase “fuckity fuck.”

  15. 15
    azteclady says:

    Thank you, MissB2U!

    And since I live in a world without television and am behind on all things cool, can someone point me out to the origin of the two gifs in the post?

  16. 16
    Karenmc says:

    azteclady, the first gif is from the Golden Globes. Everyone drinks and has a swell time. The other is the Screen Actors Guild (that dress on Lupita Nyong’O deserved an award of its own).

  17. 17
    Crystal F. says:

    I spent most of the summer and fall watching adaptations of Jane Austen’s work, and lost count how many times I’ve watched this version of Sense and Sensibility on cable. (The Screenplay and Diaries would make a great ‘shelf companion’ for the paperback copy of S&S that I’ve had since high school.)

  18. 18
    dee says:

    Wait, so the two Hughs didn’t like working with Emma Thompson? That’s sad for them.

  19. 19
    Jean Lamb says:

    You had me at Alan (“Rowling got it wrong! Snape lives!”) Rickman. I also really liked Emma Thompson’s attitude towards novelization.

    Anyway, this only shows how pathetically far behind I am on my email, but I had to say something.

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