#BookReview:Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters, Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibilty and Sea monsters Book Review

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest—and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!

Paper copy from my bookgroup collection, to help bring down my TBR!

Unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, one of the other books in this series, this book deviates quite heavily from the overall world created by Jane Austen. London is replaced by Sub Station Beta, an underwater domed world off the west coast of England, where people travel along canals, fire is not allowed (so there’s no cooking, and food is cold and made from sachets similar to military rations) and the sea creatures outside prove they are the biggest threat.

The Dashwoods are removed from their house, to live on a desolated island off the coast. Despite no other families living on the island, they have a reasonable social life, in no small part to their gregarious neighbour (and landlord) who is married to a woman he kidnapped (having slaughtered all the men in her family) on a raiding party one year.

The overall structure of Sense and Sensibility remains the same, even if the execution has changed significantly. Willoughby is a gentleman hunter, who looks dashing in wetsuit, and Colonel Brandon, who pins after Marianne has the unfortunate affliction of having tentacles on his face rather than a decent mustache. Edward Ferrars and all the other beaux make appearances and generally get into trouble as per expected.

Rather in two minds about it – I like P&P&Z, and could see the effort put in to be as close as possible to the original (not only in narrative but language as well). S&S&SM was cleverly written – the world was well created and the humour and the horror were well written. The use of S&S seemed a little forced however. Had the author not been constrained by trying to keep in close to the original….I think it could have been funnier, more farcical and overall freer.

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