Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Posted March 18, 2011 by Kathy Davie in

Sense and Sensibility and Sea MonstersSense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I suspect this hysterically, satirical story is readable on its own although I think I got more out of it because I had read the original Jane Austen—if only for the tremendous contrast (and similarity) of the two.

I am really impressed with Winters’ interpretation.

“Lucy continued, ‘But I cannot help notice you are squeezing your eyes shut and holding your head between your legs. I should be sorry to have you ill. Heaven knows what I should have done without your friendship.’”

“…they saw that a servant, who had been changing the water filtration tank and come detached from the breathing hose of his special Ex-Domic Float-Suit, was clamoring for their attention. The operations of the Station’s various life-sustaining apparatuses were meant to be entirely invisible to the inhabitants, and the man’s noisy exhibition was a rather embarrassing violation of decorum; Elinor and her guests studiously ignored him, and his increasingly insistent thrashing became the background to the ensuing uncomfortable exchange.”

The research that boy had to do for all the seagoing information! His imagination is out of this world, almost literally as he creates a world, an England, whose coastline and people are threatened by man-eating sea creatures. Every walk carries a club or pickax.

“’Is there a felicity in the world superior to this?’ asked Marianne with a grin. ‘Margaret, we will walk here at least two hours, and if we are set upon by any sort of man-beast with giant lobster claws, I shall swiftly butcher it with this pickaxe I brought for that purpose.’”

“The Dashwoods swiftly refreshed their wardrobes, making sure to don their Float-Suits over their new ensembles. The Float-Suits were composed firstly of arm-bands, one worn around each bicep, and a kind of waist-sash, all of which could be swiftly inflated by tugging on a cord tucked up one’s sleeve; and secondly of a reed worn under the nose, continuing enough oxygen for four minute’s worth of respiration.”

The sea-going power of which we know has never evolved, as sailing on the sea has become a life-defying venture and every meal is fish.

“Alas! A quarter mile off the coast of Sussex, Mr. Dashwood was eaten by a hammerhead shark.”

“’Shall we see you tomorrow at dinner?’ said Mrs. Dashwood, when he was leaving them. ‘It’s prawns dipped in butter buckets.’ He engaged to be with them by four o’clock, and to bring his own bib.”

“Thomas returned downstairs to begin slicing up crayfish for tomorrow’s breakfast.”

Winters has done an incredible job of writing both the dialog and the content maintaining the flavor of Austen’s original writing. When combined with his fishy flavorings, you can’t help but laugh.

The cover is such a lovely parody of Austen’s cover with Marianne being embraced by the fishily-visaged Colonel Brandon.

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