Deborah Yaffe

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Family dinner

By Deborah Yaffe, Nov 28 2019 02:00PM

As we sit down to our turkey tonight, perhaps in company with relatives or acquaintances whom we carefully avoid the rest of the year, let us turn our thoughts to a similar ordeal faced by the Dashwood sisters.


Invited for dinner at the London home of their selfish, neglectful half-brother John and his equally grasping wife, Elinor and Marianne endure a dinner party that may remind one or two of us of Thanksgivings past:


“The dinner was a grand one, the servants were numerous, and everything bespoke the Mistress's inclination for shew, and the Master's ability to support it. . . . no poverty of any kind, except of conversation, appeared--but there, the deficiency was considerable. John Dashwood had not much to say for himself that was worth hearing, and his wife had still less. But there was no peculiar disgrace in this, for it was very much the case with the chief of their visitors, who almost all labored under one or other of these disqualifications for being agreeable--Want of sense, either natural or improved--want of elegance--want of spirits--or want of temper.” (Sense and Sensibility, ch. 34)


Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving meal is a cut above the Dashwoods' dinner!


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