Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters Paperback – Sep 1 2009
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“A fine addition to an international fiction collection.” (Booklist )
“Esterhazy’s prose is jumpy, allusive, and slangy. . . . There is vividness, an electric crackle. The sentences are active and concrete. Physical details leap from the murk of emotional ambivalence.” (John Updike, The New Yorker ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jane Austen is coauthor of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has been translated into 17 languages and optioned to become a major motion picture. She died in 1817. Ben H. Winters is a writer based in Brooklyn.
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Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters continues the same ideas of the previous novel in the "Jane Austen and monsters " series, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but goes a step further. Instead of relying on some overdone paranormal element, like vampires or werewolves, the editors at Quirk Classics decided to be a little more original and create their own element -- "sea monsters." The sea monsters aspect of this novel is taken from all kinds of influences, ranging from Pirates of the Caribbean (evidenced by the Davy Jones-like look of Colonel Brandon), Jules Verne (thanks to a detour trip to a station on the bottom of the ocean), classical mythology and others. Some of the best things here don't even seem to be part of any specific genre, like giant jellyfish attacks, giant fighting lobsters and pet orangutans. In fact, my favorite scene is when the dashing Willoughby comes to Marianne's rescue. Instead of twisting her ankle and getting caught in the rain, Marianne is attacked by a giant octopus, which Willoughby harpoons, and is rescued -- but not after being drenched in octopus blood and guts first, of course.
I began reading this book while hanging out with my boyfriend by the pool one afternoon. I kept laughing aloud so much that he had to ask what I was reading. After having to explain far too many scenes of over-the-top violence and insanity to him, I ended up reading several passages aloud, which sent both of us rolling in hysterics. Even my boyfriend, who isn't a big fan of Austen or classical literature, liked this.
This book was hilarious -- even better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The ratio of silly to serious (sea monster to Sense and Sensibility) content has been amped up since Zombies. Instead of 85% Austen and 15% quirks, Sea Monsters has 60% Austen and 40% quirks, which opens the door for even more original adaptations of the classic.
While some hardcore fans of Austen's novels will continue to decry this line of books for altering classic literature, they have to admit that it's gotten better this time around. I'm a big fan of Austen's original works, and I found this revised version of Sense and Sensibility to be fresh and fun while still keeping true to original concepts and ideas in the original. Sure, Sea Monsters is even further away from the original than Zombies, but it allows for the sea monsters aspect to come alive instead of feeling like a pasted on afterthought to the original plot.
If you liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, than you will love Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It's filled with the same creative zaniness that readers have come to expect from this line of Quirk Classics, but taken to a whole new level. Readers who were not particularly impressed by the zombie version of P&P, but thought it had potential, should try out the sea monster version of this other Jane Austen classic. It won't disappoint.
Instead of just adapting passages of the original and throwing in regular detours via monsters (although the Pentagram of Death in P&P&Z was superb), this includes a whole new landscape while putting much of the original through a strange process ... monsterification, or some such.
The books has about 20 or so drawings in, which help bring the daft scenes to life. Some of them are quite a stretch of the imagination, so this helps a lot. There's some quality stupidity on offer here and it's written with erudition and wit. I enjoyed it and it is very funny.
Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys
The sea monster world was so graphic, gruesome and juicy, I almost broke out in hives from my seafood allergies. More than once I caught myself grimacing and wrinkling my nose at imagined fishy stink. Normally, the violence alone would be enough to make me abandon the book, but author Wilson only uses it to throw Regency cultural values into sharper and more satirical relief -- witness the scene of Elinor and Marianne earnestly engaging in prim introspection, concerned about social appropriateness and proper behavior, when (SPOILER ALERT) the entire underwater dome is about to crack at the onslaught of the sea monster rebellion and a servant has just been gruesomely murdered before their eyes (unnoticed).
Setting the main story and its sub-plots against such a background also served to emphasize what Austen herself was indeed emphasizing -- the ludicrousness of Regency-era polite society.
I did not fall off my chair laughing, but I did appreciate the skill and wit of the author. My only complaint: Colonel Brandon was a little *too* graphically repulsive. But I quite forgave this at the end of the book, when the author innocently explained the advantages of extra appendages (and I did teeter on the edge of my chair at that).
Ultimately, I consider this book a resounding success because (a) the author wrote quite as masterly a satire of social mores as did Austen herself (b) he wrote a satire of Austen's satire -- breathtaking (c) I not only found it darkly amusing -- I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Great job, Ben H. Winters.
It is a bit slowly paced in some areas, but the plot and action move much quicker here than in "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies". I found this book a more satisfying read than that one, but I look forward to reading other literary mash-ups in the near future. The book is very funny when read aloud, and the illustrations only add to the amusement of seeing familiar characters out of Regency England engaged in battles to the death with seagoing monsters. A terrific, fun read, and highly recommended.
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