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Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

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From the publisher of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" comes a new tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem. "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopuses, 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 ultra-violent depictions of sea monsters biting. It's survival of the fittest, and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!

340 pages, Paperback

First published September 15, 2009

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About the author

Ben H. Winters

53 books1,919 followers
Ben H. Winters is the author most recently of the novel The Quiet Boy (Mulholland/Little, Brown, 2021). He is also the author of the novel Golden State; the New York Times bestselling Underground Airlines; The Last Policeman and its two sequels; the horror novel Bedbugs; and several works for young readers. His first novel, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, was also a Times bestseller. Ben has won the Edgar Award for mystery writing, the Philip K. Dick award in science fiction, the Sidewise Award for alternate history, and France’s Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire.

Ben also writes for film and television. He is the creator and co-showrunner of Tracker, forthcoming on CBS. Previously he was a producer on the FX show Legion, and on the upcoming Apple TV+ drama Manhunt.

He has contributed short stories to many anthologies, as well as in magazines such as Lightspeed. He is the author of four “Audible Originals”– Stranger, Inside Jobs, Q&A, and Self Help — and several plays and musicals. His reviews appear frequently in the New York Times Book Review. Ben was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in Maryland, educated in St. Louis, and then grew up a bunch more, in various ways, in places like Chicago, New York, Cambridge, MA, and Indianapolis, IN. These days he lives in LA with his wife, three kids, and one large dog.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,219 reviews
Profile Image for Rhiannon Ryder.
298 reviews21 followers
February 15, 2010
Nothing offended me more than in first year university English when I had to listen to a classroom full of people gripe and moan about Jane Austen, and how they thought Pride and Prejudice was like a soap opera. I sat there and blew steam out of my ears and looked forward to the day when I could discuss the book with people who actually understood how brilliant it was that you could compare her book, written between 1797 and 1813, with a modern soap opera.

But for Christmas this year, my good friend Mel gave me Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I've got to say, I think Quirk Publishing might have just found the way to make this book fun even for the nay-sayers!

They started with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which I'm going to have to pick up now, since pride was always my fave anyhow), and then moved on to Sense and Sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility with Sea Monsters, is a great parody all in that dry humor vein which is so classically Austen. To begin with the book seems nearly identical to the original except for the comments thrown in to set up the sea monster theme; lots of them very comical. For instance Willoughby is a treasure hunter, and wears a wet suit for the entire book no matter what he's doing
"Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation which had seized her at sixteen and a half, of ever seeing a man who could satisfy her ideas of perfection, had been rash and unjustifiable. Willoughby was all that her fancy had delineated in that unhappy hour, and in every brighter period. He was the sun shining on smooth rocks; he was a clear blue sky after monsoon season's end; he was perfection in a wet suit."

As the story moves on there are progressively more and more fun changes, the fashionable hub of society is Sub-Marine Station Beta an under-the-sea city, instead of London. There are Pirates, and Sea witches, one of which has cursed Colonel Brandon to have a Squid face.
"Otherwise, he was very pleasant. His appearance, besides the twitching tentacles that overhung his chin, was not unpleasing, despite being an absolute old bachelor; for he was the wrong side of five and thirty."
And in almost every emotional scene there is an attack by some type of sea monster happening at the same moment. Picture Lucy unburdening herself to Elinor of her secret engagement to Edward while Elinor fights off a two headed Sea Serpent.

Finally, without giving away the big ending, i have to say there is a truly wonderful parody at the end of this book of the usual readers Discussion guide. "10. Is Monsieur Pierre a symbol for something? Name three other well-known works of Western Literature that feature orangutan valets. Are those characters also slain by pirates?"

This book had me giggling on and off for days, not to mention reading bits out for people whenever they'd listen. I highly recommend it for both Jane Austen fans and those who thought she was a bore in first year university.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
Published by Quirk Books, September 2009
Profile Image for Roxanne.
Author 1 book52 followers
January 19, 2010
It takes a lot for me not to finish a book, but I have to say, I'm 50 pages in to this and really not loving it. All the things that were fun and sassy about Pride & Prejudice & Zombies feel annoying and forced here. In P & P & Z, Grahame-Smith seemed to really care about the characters and the story and wove the zombies in beautifully, and the end result is a book that will attract new readers to Austen. Winters, however, doesn't seem to have any respect or love for Austen; unlike Grahame-Smith, Winters seems to start from thinking Austen is boring and in need of livening up. He turns Austen's rich characters into caricatures of themselves, and he slaps sea beasts into the story at random. He also takes a lot more liberties with the original text. Overall his version of this novel feels like a childish dig at the English teacher who forced him to read Austen. Sorry, but that's really not the way to approach a classic and well-loved text like this. (Although if he'd done it to Emma, I'd have a little more sympathy--she's far more deserving of an octopus attack than the Dashwood sisters.)

There were a few moments I appreciated--for example, Willoughby's physique-accentuating wetsuit, and just the concept of Brandon with tentacles--but it's really not enough to make me want to keep reading.

::edit:: Despite what I wrote above, I did, however, return to the book, and skimmed and skipped around until I got to the end, mostly just to see what Winters did with it. I have to say, I kind of loved the conclusion of the Lucy Steele plotline--that was almost excellent. But just about everything else got on my nerves. Winters really hates these characters--Elinor's gaping neck wound, Marianne's bout with malaria AND yellow fever? Yeah, still not down with this adaptation.
Profile Image for Anna.
244 reviews65 followers
September 16, 2009
When Quirk Classics’ first literary mash-up, “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,” came out earlier this year, we Austen-obsessed Watermarkers kept it displayed close at hand, for the sheer delight of watching customers’ reactions to its cover, which features a well-coiffed Regency lass missing several important parts of her face. As one might gather, comments fell into two camps: the “That is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen!” variety, and, like my own, “That may be the single greatest idea anyone has ever had!” (Take that, penicillin and the wheel!) It seems the general populace leaned towards the latter, because “P&P&Z” has been hanging out on the New York Times bestseller list for months now. Last I heard, the movie rights were in hot contention. May I suggest, Hollywood, that no one could pull off Mr.-Darcy-as-action-hero better than Clive Owen?
“Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters” mines the same vein, with gleeful results. You see, some time before the action takes place, a horrible change took place in the oceans of the world; known as the Alteration, this mysterious event turned all the creatures of the sea into vicious monsters, bent on destroying mankind. Needless to say, this left England, being mostly coast, rather susceptible to attack by sea serpents, gargantuan jellyfish, razor-toothed crawfish, and the like. It’s a downright Lovecraftian premise, crossed with a little H. Rider Haggard (in a subplot about young Margaret Dashwood’s glimpses of an alien geyser-worshipping civilization on the secluded island where Barton Cottage stands).
And where is Austen in all this? Well, “Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters” has, despite appearances, the same basic plot as its more respectable namesake, and in fact, many of the same words. What’s brilliant about these two Austen-horror hybrids is actually their fidelity to the originals—I think most of the humor would be lost on someone who hadn’t read the non-zombified-and-sea-monstered versions. For instance, in the parody, poor Colonel Brandon is not only old (at 35) and less than dashing: he’s been cursed by a sea witch, and the bottom half of his face is covered with tentacles. Thus, in the early conversation between Willoughby and Marianne over their shared dislike of him, Austen’s words get oh-so-subtly spun: “‘Brandon is just the kind of man,’ said Willoughby, ‘whom everybody speaks well of, and nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and everybody is sort of mildly afraid to look at him directly.’”
I can, of course, understand why Austen purists object. “Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters,” and its predecessor, are thoroughly silly exercises in subversion. Me, I think they’re *hilarious.* As for what Quirk Classics should tackle next, I’m torn: “Northanger Abbey” is *begging* for a vampire or two, but giant robots would liven up “Mansfield Park” considerably, wouldn’t they?
Profile Image for Meaghan.
1,096 reviews25 followers
November 1, 2009
I think this book is an improvement on the previous one in the series, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The zombies in the first book were really just window dressing. On the other hand, the sea monsters in this book were actually a major part of the plot and really livened up the story. (I cannot help but find Jane Austen's stories to be dull, dull, dull.) I look forward to see what classics they warp next!
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,952 reviews1,295 followers
August 18, 2010
Jane Austen and I have had a rocky relationship. I respect her as a writer and believe she deserves a place in the canon of great English authors, but I sometimes wonder if she is overhyped. When it comes to Sense and Sensibility , it has a lot of Austen's trademark wit, but as a first novel it also has the immaturity and inexperience of a writer learning the craft. So with Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Ben H. Winters has an opportunity to take a promising tale of two sisters and ameliorate it with his marine menaces. Indeed, this is probably the intention, but as I'm going to emphasize over and over again, it did not work out that way.

Before I launch into my main criticism, I want to note two errors that jumped out at me while I read. The first is excusable, or at least explainable. The second, not so much. Both are good examples of the carelessness that plagues this book.

The first error is in the first paragraph of Chapter 9. The Dashwoods have arrived at Pestilence Isle and are settling into their new home. As part of these activities, "they had strung the encircling fence with garlands of dried kelp and lamb's blood, which Sir John Middleton had proscribed as the surest method to ward off" sea monsters. Rather than proscribed, which means forbidden, I think the word Winters intends is prescribed. The two words are antonyms in meaning but only one letter apart. Hence, this is probably just a rather unfortunate typo. Copy editors are human too. (Well, most of them.)

I cannot quite as easily dismiss the second error. Later in the book (Chapter 46), Marianne is planning her new life without Willoughby: "I shall learn engineering; I shall study hydrology and biology and aeronautics; I shall endeavour to understand Mendel's principles and comparative zoology." Managing that last resolution would be quite an accomplishment, because Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk known for his experiments with heredity and generally credited for discovering genetics, won't be born until five years after Austen dies. So the Marianne of Sense and Sensibility wouldn't know about Mendel. To be fair, Winters never specifies when this book takes place. Maybe it takes place in a later part of the nineteenth century, after Mendel starts his experiments. Yet this explanation is unsatisfactory for two reasons: firstly, Mendel's work didn't garner much attention until the early twentieth century; secondly, even if the Alteration changed that and led to an earlier realization of genetics, moving the time period forward even by fifty years would place Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters into the Victorian era. And I think that would make for a different tone of book. No, the easiest explanation seems to be that Mendel's mention is an anachronism. It only took me a few seconds to check Mendel's birth date on Wikipedia. What is Winters' excuse?

That question, while pertinent, probably will not bear much fruit. Instead, let's consider two complementary questions. Does the sea monsters story need Sense and Sensibility or could it have worked on its own? Conversely, is Sense and Sensibility helped or improved in any way by the addition of sea monsters? Spoiler alert: the answer to both questions is "no."

Prior to reading this book, I was under the impression that the eponymous sea monsters were anomalies. They are actually much more than that. Some time prior to the story's start, the Earth's oceans experienced an "Alteration," and all marine life became hostile toward humankind. Ocean voyages now hold great peril; even living near a lake is dangerous. Forget Sense and Sensibility for a moment: the Alteration is a great starting point for an alternate history novel set in Regency England! Considering Britain's status as a naval power, a far-flung empire, and an island, there would be plenty of interesting developments as a result of the Alteration. So many questions to explore, characters to create . . .

. . . and it's all wasted on Jane Austen. No offense meant to Austen, of course. But in trying—and I do emphasize that word, trying—to graft the plot and characters of Sense and Sensibility onto his Altered England, Winters misses the mark. Instead of creating a story truly worthy of such a fantastic setting, he tries to stretch a story that wasn't made to fit this canvas—and oh, how it shows.

Take, for example, the cause of the Alteration. Winters throws out some half-hearted speculation. Henry Dashwood dies pursuing the source of a poison stream he believes the cause. Sir John Middleton believes the Alteration is a curse upon England by one of the victims of British imperialism; he has devoted his life to finding the primitive tribe responsible, with no success. Edward Ferrars favours a theory that blames Henry VIII's split with Catholicism. All these sound interesting, but under scrutiny they all fall apart. The Alteration's name (indeed, the very fact that it has a Name) suggests that the oceans were not always like this. So there should be a simple way to test, say, Edward's theory about Henry VIII: what do written records say about ocean voyages prior to Henry's reign? Surely a calamity as great as the Alteration would be recorded: "June 7, waters calm. June 8, the dolphins killed my first mate. God help us all!" I find it very difficult to believe no one knows when the Alteration began. The poison stream and tribal curse theories are also rather silly, but slightly less so, and I suppose the latter works well as a background for Sir John. It just galls me that Winters takes such an off-handed approach to what may be the most important question in his universe.

There's also something suspect about the number of people who spend their time near or on the ocean, considering its dangers. Let's start with Pestilence Isle. Sir John lives on an archipelago off of Devonshire, specifically on Deadwind Island, and he lets a cottage on Pestilence Isle to the Dashwood women. It makes sense that Sir John would live on a tiny island. He's an adventurer, and he likes danger. But why would he put women needlessly in danger by giving them a cottage on a smaller island where he doesn't live? Why would the Dashwoods ever agree to live there? As the frequent sea monster attacks show, the decision is practically suicidal. And don't get me started—yet—about what happens to Margaret.

Moving on: Sub-Marine Station Beta. Actually, I kind of see how this one makes sense. It may be—nay, it is—stupid to build a gigantic dome habitation at the bottom of the ocean off the British coast and then invite all the upper class people to spend the winter there. If this were a James Bond movie, Sub-Marine Station Beta would be part of a trap by the villain. (It would also feature an awesome underwater fight scene, in which Bond dispatches several baddies and a couple of sharks. But I digress.) However, Sub-Marine Station Beta is consistent with the British attitude of stalwart arrogance in the face of adversity. In a time of war, which this is, the British keep those upper lips stiff and like to show that they remain steadfast. How better to show that you do not fear the enemy than building a stronghold in the middle of his or her territory? Sub-Marine Station Beta is an exercise in nationalism and a display of bravado. It's also rather stupid.

The icing on the implausibility cake, however, are the pirates. Are we supposed to believe that there are outlaws who subsist by taking some of the few ships that survive sea monster attacks? And that these ships themselves somehow avoid succumbing to those same attacks? I love reading about pirates, but they are the most obvious example of something included in this book because it's cool instead of its potential contributions to the plot.

No, when I look at it this way, it is a shame that Winters had even to try to follow an outline of Sense and Sensibility in writing this book. It is a waste of a world that could have been so much more. And all of these flaws read like they are the result of carelessness, of unintentional neglect caused by starting with the idea of "it's Sense and Sensibility, but with sea monsters" and then throwing everything at the book to see what sticks. I kind of feel sorry for the setting.

Having determined that the sea monsters suffer at the hands of Sense and Sensibility, can we say the same in reverse? Yes, indubitably. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters does not merely besmirch its source material's good name; it follows Sense and Sensibility down a dark alleyway, beats it senseless, and then slinks away to commit more crimes against Austen's oeuvre.

Harsh much? I thought so too, at first. I wanted to find this book amusing. I wanted to chuckle at how Winters cleverly transposes the class humour and familial squabbles of Austen's characters into this Altered England. The more I read, however, the more I realized that Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters does not just fail to live up to its source. I could handle that. But no, it's much worse. This book actively dismantles everything that makes Sense and Sensibility great English literature.

Nineteenth-century English society holds our interest in part because its class system is very different from the way contemporary society is stratified. But it's not enough merely to mock or to belittle this difference. To successfully satirize Regency England, one must deconstruct its customs and culture and examine why our contemporary society finds it humorous. Otherwise, all you're doing is pointing and laughing; on a scale of sophistication, that is barely above toilet humour.

As its title specifies, Sense and Sensibility is about the balance between reason and emotionalism. Elinor, with her calculating and practical ways, embodies sense; Marianne, the emotional and impulsive one, sensibility. Winters pays lip service to these differences as he develops the plot along the same lines as the original novel. While the developments in relations between characters, sea monster attacks aside, are the same, the emotional and thematic significance of these relationships are mangled in translation. For instance, I never feel the angst of Elinor's realization that Edward, whatever their feelings for one another, is unavailable. Winters develops this, cashes in on the irony, and even makes Lucy Steele a sea-witch. But all the window dressing gets in the way of the nuances at play among Elinor, Edward, and Lucy. Similarly, Marianne's obsession with Colonel Brandon's face adds nothing to the character's obsession in the original novel with his age.

The revelation of Lucy's identity as a sea-witch also bothered me. Specifically, Sir John explains why sea-witches must take human form:
. . . the only certain way for a sea witch to prolong its foul existence is by consuming human bone marrow, which is therefore, to them, the most precious of elixirs. Hence their occasional appearance, in the guise of attractive human women, among the terrestrial world—where they make love to an unknowing man, marry him unawares, and then, when the opportunity presents itself, kill him and suck out his marrow.

It is the last sentence that presents a problem: why bother marrying the man before feeding upon him? Surely it would be more effective to jump his bones (literally) and skip the tiresome courtship. In fact, why bother with a man at all? Why not just subdue some children and feed off of them? It might seem like I'm nitpicking, but I think these are reasonable questions about something that involves the motivations and actions of an important character.

At about the point where the situation at Sub-Marine Station Beta becomes dire, it dawned on me that the scope of Winters' narrative is entirely unsuited to Austen's original story. Sense and Sensibility is, like all of Austen's work, an intimate novel that uses a few families to portray all of English society in microcosm. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is about a couple of girls crying about guys, kicking sea monster ass, escaping a doomed underwater city, and then witnessing the rise of an apocalyptic Leviathan. The plot has suddenly become much bigger than the original story, dwarfing the characters and their problems, which are supposed to be centre stage.

And . . . Margaret. What the hell? I have no idea what Winters was trying to do with Margaret's—I can only call it a "seduction" by the island. The whole subplot of Margaret discovering an entire species of subhumans who have existed "since the dawn of time" and worship the Leviathan is unnecessary and, frankly, uninteresting. Once again, like Lucy the sea-witch and the cause of the Alteration, Winters has included something that probably seemed like a good idea but, taken together with the entire work, just adds clutter and confusion.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters promises that it "blends Jane Austen's biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting." An examination of this very blend belies this claim. I do not doubt the sincerity of the claim; it's clear that Winters and Quirks Classics have tried very hard to do justice to Austen's novel. In some ways, it would be better for everyone if this were some pernicious attempt to mock the source material—as it is, I feel a little pity for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Its mistakes are made in a labour of love, but they are born from carelessness that could easily have been avoided.

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Profile Image for Viola.
369 reviews51 followers
November 17, 2020
Vēl viens Dž. Ostinas romāna pārstāsts ar negaidītu piedevu - dažādiem jūras mošķiem. Māsas Elinora un Marinanna, radinieku nekrietnās rīcības dēļ, pārceļas dzīvot uz mazu piekrastes pilsētiņu, kur jūras ūdeņos mīt dažādas baisas jūras radības, kuras tā vien gaida, kā kādu naivu jaunkundzi ievilkt jūras dzelmē.
Šajā romānā drosmīgi vīri iet bojā nevis, piemēram, nokrītot no zirga, bet tos saplosa asinskārs krabis. Arī daži romāna varoņi izskatās kā tēli no Karību jūras pirātiem, Deivija Džounsa komandas ( glumi taustekļi pie ģīmja utt.)
Jāsaka, ka variants ar zombijiem man likās interesantāks, bet varbūt kādam Ostinas fanam arī šis liksies ļoti ok.
Profile Image for Brent.
355 reviews147 followers
May 19, 2022
I kept telling myself that I was going to read the original first, but who am I kidding, I'm not reading Jane Austen. Anyway this was pretty fun, with long meticulous conversation about the minutiae of each character's emotions, punctuated by a mysterious sea-monster plot.
Profile Image for Brittney.
278 reviews
March 22, 2010
Ok, I knew this was going to be a risk, trying this book. I thought I would like it though. I like people who take serious things and turn them on their head to be funny, like Princess Bride or Monty Python (or pretty much all British comedy) for example. I thought this would be silly and fun. It turns out that it was just boring and stupid. I cannot remember the last time I didn't finish a book until I tried reading this one. Not even halfway.

The author basically takes the original story and adds in the fact that there are human eating sea monsters everywhere that go out of their way to try to kill humans. Colonel Brandon is half human-half octopus. Maryann and Elinor spend their free time whittling wood and trying to kill sea monsters before they are killed themselves. If I were British, I would say something like "complete and utter rubbish, this book!" But, since I'm not, I'll just tell you to not waste your precious reading time.
Profile Image for Kinsey.
309 reviews7 followers
November 3, 2017
I'm not ashamed to admit that - even with a tentacle-face - I would still bang Colonel Brandon like a screen door in a hurricane...
Profile Image for inciminci.
396 reviews70 followers
April 25, 2021
Well, that was silly.
Regency Era England has been marked by a phenomenon called the Alteration which "turned the creatures of the ocean against the people of the earth; which made even the tiniest darting minnow and the gentlest dolphin into aggressive, blood-thirsty predators, hardened and hateful towards our bipedal race; which had given foul birth to whole new races of man-hating, shape-shifting ocean creatures, sirens and sea witches and mermaids and mermen; which rendered the oceans of the world naught but great burbling salt-cauldrons of death."
In this utterly hostile environment Austen's famous Dashwood sisters not only deliver wisdoms and witty conversations on the nature of relationships and men, they also fearlessly battle vengeful fish, mutated crustaceans and other abominable sea creatures.
Seriously though, this book is fun, but somehow the idea of the book is more fun than the actual realization, if you know what I mean. Every time I sat down for a read I started feeling as if it is too much for me and it actually took me a long time to finish it. I have read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", which follows the same principle, before and was smitten by that book, which had such a nice flow. So I was expecting the same impact from this one too. I don't know to what degree that might have been the case because I prefer "Pride and Prejudice" to "Sense and Sensibility" but anyway, it was a fun read nevertheless.
Profile Image for  Bon.
1,194 reviews114 followers
March 3, 2020
I love how BADASS these twisted versions make the females. Jane gave them strong CHARACTER - these give them strong muscles and propensity for violence. A+.
Profile Image for Cass.
488 reviews119 followers
February 12, 2011
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is a fabulously witty mash-up of Austen's work of (almost) the same name. The author remains faithful to the characters and story while brilliantly weaving throughout the book an absorbing tale of sea monsters overrunning the country.

If I sound like I am gushing, that is because I am. Parodies, or mash-ups of almost all of the works of Jane Austen have appeared in bookstores over the last few years. This author really manages to weave an interesting tale throught the book, rather than relying on the current pop-culture interest in zombies to sell books (yes I am talking about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the even worse Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls). This author actually writes a book that would be interesting even without Austen, he actually manages to mash two great ideas together to come up with a very witty laugh-out-loud novel.

What the author does really well is to weave a funny and interesting story very cleverly through the original. He does this by manipulating the less important characters, manipulating locations and weaving sea monster drama through crucial scenes. In does all this in such a way that compliments, rather than changes, Austen. When Marianna remains focused on Willoughy while crazed lobsters go on a murderous rampage through a ballroom we, the reader, nod our heads assured that that is exactly how she would have behaved if Austen was doing the retelling.

The Austen romance is still happening, Colonel Brandon still loves Marianne who still loves Willoughby who still loves (well I won't give it all away) but the minor characters, under the pen of Ben H. Winters add a complete new dimension to the story. Lady Middleton becomes a show-stealing amazon beauty who would readily cut the throats of the entire party given the chance. Her entrance had me laughing aloud, her behaviour and caustic comments made me fall in love with her. Margaret becomes a central character giving a focus for a mystery surrounding their new home on Pestilent Isle. Even the Miss Steeles receive a little boost.

What I love best is that, again, he has managed to elevate these characters to more prominent roles without changing their intended nature. Instead his changes actually extend and compliment the characters, providing insight into behaviours that Austen wrote about. He creates a completely plausible reason, within the context of a society that daily battles with sea monsters, for the aloof behaviour between Sir John and Lady Middleton. At the same time making the oddities of Mrs Jennings seem reasonable.

The author has taken the time to read and understand the Austen characters. Not only this but he has felt the injustices that our heroines feel, and by allowing us to laugh at them, has given us closure.

Mrs Ferrars praising the absent Miss Morton
Beautiful indeed! But she does everything well. Have you seen her peel a banana? It is like listening to a symphony."

The author has added some delicious details which give rise to some 'book club' type questions. The characters seem always to be eating seafood, are they are eating this due to the abundant supply of meat from dead sea monsters, or could this overconsumption be somehow related to the sea monster attacks? London is transformed into Sub Marine Station Beta an undersea dome in which all residents must wear precautionary floation devices and eat tasteless powdered foods. Is this a reflection on the lengths that people go to in order to remain fashionable? I love that the author has manage to make me consider the possibilities and wonder about hidden subtexts in a mash-up. I love that I see the humour in a world of humans feasting on sea fare while at the same time being afraid of being eaten by a sea monster.

Never had he found proof of his belief, let alone any amelioration of his homeland's peril...

Amelioration means improvement, and the latter word would have worked just as well. I am becoming quite taken with an author who would occasionally choose such an obscure and difficult word, when a more common one would do.

Austen's Sense and Sensibility has always been a novel that had layers, this adaptation does no discredit to this. His humour is clever and shows a great appreciation of the original work. I am laughing constantly at what is turning out to be very clever humour, while feeling clever myself for seeing subtle things. Then I cleverly realise that surely the best way to a rave review is to make the reader think they are the only person clever enough to 'get it', and then I decided we are all very clever indeed.

This retelling could indeed been how it actually happened, perhaps it was Jane Austen that left these pieces out, rather than Winters who added them in.
Profile Image for Stuart Dean.
587 reviews3 followers
December 9, 2020
I never thought a Jane Austen book could be in any way improved. I thought they were all so irredeemably boring that there was no salvaging them. Tiresome self-absorbed girls, pretentious wooden men, long inner monologues about their mournful lot in life, they have it all. Little did I realize that they were practically perfect missing just one essential element: sea monsters.

Watching two vapid twenty year olds comparing boyfriends is so much more interesting when they are also under attack by a two-headed fang beast. Banal dinner party conversation is vastly improved with a delicious soup made from the bile ducts of sloths. No visit to the shore for a clambake can be complete without at least one guest being eaten by giant jellyfish. Jane Austen without the constant threat of watery death is like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" without the vampires, just a bunch of teenagers whining and acting as if their little problems were the most important things in the world.

The silliness Winters brings to this work is beyond over the top. People are literally annoyed at a servant for having the poor manners as to be skewered by a swordfish while the ladies are having tea. It's all like that, as the characters totally ignore danger and actual death while treating courtship rituals and social standing as earth shattering importance. The nonsense is hilarious. If Jane Eyre had had a few erewolves I might even have finished it in high school.
183 reviews
November 17, 2016
If this book hadn't satisfied needs in two different challenges, I don't think I would have finished it.

Silliness. And not always in a fun or good way. This was "austenesque" in that it used an Austen plot and Austen's characters, at least in name. But the feel, the language, the "oh dear, my thesaurus has vomited on the page" excesses... not Austen-like at all.

Yes, yes, there were some amusing parts, and it can be amusing to exaggerate and poke fun at familiar scenes. And how politely everyone tried to ignore bits of grossness or violence - impossible not to giggle at the ridiculousness of it all.

I knew what I was getting into when I picked it up, so have no one to blame but myself. :-)
Profile Image for Kirsten .
1,609 reviews258 followers
June 19, 2020
This was a lot fun. Not only was it a mash-up of two of my favorite things: Jane Austen and monsters, but it also had a little Lovecraftian joy added in. I haven't read the original in some time. I really should because I don't remember a 3rd sister and there was one in here. The action scenes and illustrations were well done and the characters stayed in the original character with very few modifications.

Great fun!
Profile Image for Esonja.
398 reviews5 followers
June 22, 2013
This book is ridiculous. Started off at 2 stars, slid home at 3.5-4. Seriously, I started this book thinking 2 stars was going to be generous (and not at all sure I would finish it), but am happy to say it easily improved from there. Gross, but fun, especially after you stop looking for Austen homage, rather than a sea monsters book written by someone who clearly loves Austen's works. I stand by my first impression, though; it's ridiculous. Also, I note that I don't care that much about Sense and Sensibility, and, conversely, I will not read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the exact opposite reason.
Profile Image for Shelly.
34 reviews15 followers
August 13, 2011
I didn't think that I could be more disappointed than I was with "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" but that is exactly what happened. I didn't like it. My advice is to stick with the original story which is amazing.
Profile Image for Kristina Coop-a-Loop.
1,227 reviews484 followers
June 23, 2019
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters is not the easiest book to read. I think you’d have to be a Jane Austen fan, but not a stick-up-your-ass Austen enthusiast, but rather a reader who is familiar with her novels, loves them, yet still can enjoy them being the butt of a good joke. SSSM is more of a homage to the novel that pokes fun at the romantic plot. It’s worth taking the time to read, but you really have to persevere to finish it.

Winters for the most part follows closely the frame of the plot of Sense and Sensibility. He does include (from what I can discern) original text from the novel, but he writes the whole novel in Austen’s style—and I think he’s fairly successful in copying her. Even sentences like this are very Austen-like: “Marianne hardly knew what to say, and she was additionally attempting to dislodge a catfish bone from where it had become lodged in her throat since lunch. She could not wound the feelings of her sister on any account, and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible. At length she coughed, pounded a bit on her breastbone, and replied” (22). The author is very good at emulating Jane Austen, to the point that I found the book required as much concentration and brain work as an actual Austen novel. He is much more successful than the authors of Pride and Promiscuity who attempted to pass off their “discovered” sex scenes as having been written by Austen; they didn’t even come close.

While the overall story of this book echoes the original, Winters changes it to include the sea monsters. The England of this novel is not populated by gently rolling hills with grazing sheep and lots of trees and hedgerows and manor houses. Oh no. It takes place in England after the Alteration, when “the waters of the world grew cold and hateful to the sons of man, and darkness moved on the face of the deep” (7). Great monsters have surfaced from the seas and bedevil the English coasts. Land mass has been reclaimed by the sea and much of what is left is foggy, dank and swampy. Living along the coast is dangerous; not only must you watch out for bogs, but hermit crabs the size of ponies. Violent, gruesome death by marine life is a common occurrence. No one knows the cause of the Alteration, but there are many theories ranging from a poison that infected all of the waters the world and its sea creatures to pissed off monster gods. Thus, the ocean and its sea life is humanity’s greatest enemy and source of food (there is no mention of mutton in this book but they are constantly eating something fish-oriented and nasty-sounding).

The characters still keep their essential personalities and storylines, but with a sea monster-twist. Sir John (Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin who invites them to live at Barton Cottage) is an adventurer who has spent much of his adult life seeking out the cause of the Alteration. During his travels, he acquired many prizes, but his greatest is his wife, Lady Middleton. She was formerly an island maiden named Kukaphahora. Sir John acquired her when he and his compatriots murdered all the men on the island and dragged away the women in nets. Mr. Palmer, one of his adventurous companions, also acquired his wife in the same manner. Colonel Brandon “suffered from a cruel affliction, the likes of which the Dashwood sisters had heard of, but never seen firsthand. He bore a set of long, squishy tentacles protruding grotesquely from his face, writhing this way and that, like hideous living facial hair of slime green” (37). Apparently Col. Brandon pissed of a sea witch who then cursed him with a squid face.

The romantic yearnings and schemes of the characters play out against this backdrop of murderous sea creatures. The fateful trip Elinor and Marianne take to London with Mrs. Jennings is transformed into a trip to Sub-Marine Station Beta, a kind of underwater London (although it’s never called London)—a major metropolis built under a dome miles below the sea. To get there, they travel in submarines (which makes this novel kind of like steampunk) and when there they visit the Aqua-Museo-Quarium and Kensington Undersea Gardens. Even at Sub-Marine Station Beta, they are not safe as giant lobsters (trained like seals to perform) turn on the audience and eat them and sea creatures coordinate to attack the Dome itself. Highly emotional and pivotal scenes from the book (which I remember more clearly from the 1995 Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet movie) are paired with sea monster attacks. This is quite funny—Elinor trying to keep up polite conversation with Lucy Steele while they are being attacked by the Devonshire Fang-Beast and Lucy is oblivious:
“Good heavens!” cried Elinor, swinging her oar towards the flat head of the Fang-Beast, as astonished by the sheer size of the creature she faced, as by her dawning understanding of Lucy Steele’s meaning. “What do you mean? Are you acquainted with Mr. Robert Ferrars? Can you be?” The Fang-Beast, meanwhile, easily avoided the strike of the oar, which splashed uselessly on the surface of the water (125).
The pivotal scene in the which Marianne confronts Willoughby at a dance is transformed into a mix of comic farce, heartbreak and violence and gore as the giant lobsters begin decapitating the audience while Marianne is questioning the faithless Willoughby: “But have you not received my notes?”

The entire novel is like this: the formal language and decorum of society contrasted with various (and frequent) gory deaths by sea monsters. I particularly enjoyed the odd conversations. Fanny and Mrs. Ferrars (her mother) are comparing Elinor’s whittling skills to those of Miss Morton, the woman they want Edward Ferrars to marry, and praising Miss Morton: “Beautifully indeed! But she does everything well. Have you seen her peel a banana? It is like listening to a symphony” (209).

Despite myself, I enjoyed this very weird book. It’s very well written and the author does an excellent job of keeping the formality of the Austen prose even when describing attacks by giant seafaring eyeballs (with tentacles). There’s an excellent pirate encounter towards the end of the book, Elinor vs. Dreadbeard, which showcases Elinor’s ability to remain calm under pressure and to kick pirate ass. My biggest complaint about the book is that it’s too damn long. Winters follows the story of Sense and Sensibility too closely. I think he could have simplified some of the romance plots (although Lucy and focused more on the mystery of the cause of the Alteration. The added weirdness of Margaret’s alteration and the other sea beast was just…well, weird. I can’t complain about it; the whole damn book is screwy. The author even includes a fake Reader’s Discussion Guide, maybe because he (like me) despises them and wishes publishers would quit including the stupid things. But he asks great questions like: “Which would be worse: being eaten by a shark or consumed by the acidic stomach juice of a sand-shambling man-o’-war?” and “Have you ever been attacked by giant lobsters, either figuratively or literally?”

If you have read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and have a sense of humor about it, try out this book. It can sometimes be a bit of a slog (like Jane), but it’s worthwhile (also like Jane). Likewise, if you’ve never read any Jane Austen books but would like to, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters would be a great introduction to her classic novels.
Profile Image for Liberté.
230 reviews
April 28, 2013
If I disliked this book less, I could talk about it more.

No wait. I can definitely talk about it.

Content Warning: This review contains references to implied rape and colonialist murder of native peoples. Contains spoilers.

First of all, I'm fairly certain that Jane Austen would be annoyed, not amused, at Winters' so-called adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Aside from displaying a basic sense of not beating a dead horse (or as Winters would probably put it, flaying a dead octopus), there are several aspects of this book which depart from the spirit of Jane Austen. In short, Winters would have been better off writing his own story about an Alteration which transforms Regency England into a dangerous, ocean-threatened place instead of disgracing Austen's work so thoroughly. For reference, he could look to Naomi Novik's Temeraire series as a good way to handle historical AU.

Before anything else, "Lady Middleton" needs to be addressed. In this version of events, Lady Middleton has been kidnapped from her native land (unspecified, but possibly near Manzanar) to be the "wife" of Sir John Middleton. In modern parlance, we would describe her as a sex slave. She has children with Sir John, but at every turn she is described as a woman who hates her husband and wants to return home. At first Winters doesn't even treat her as a full character, but as a caricature. Eventually, she does manage her escape, but her mother and sister (Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Palmer) stay in England, allegedly content with their new "situation" - the very paragon of the "civilized native". There are also multiple references to Mrs. Jennings' sons being murdered by Sir John and his crew, offhand and without critique. We never learn the real names of Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings or Mrs. Palmer, as these are names which Sir John "gave" them after kidnapping them. For just this reason, this book is extremely problematic.

Secondly, while the Alteration may have produced a geographic change, it is Winters who produces a character change within the Dashwoods and their acquaintances. There is a scene where a servant who is cleaning the outside glass of an undersea city loses his air supply and his cries for help are a) ignored by Elinor, Lucy, Marianne and Edward, and b) when he is eventually eaten alive, their only concern is that someone will have to clean up the bloodstains. While Regency England was not the pinnacle of workers' rights, it strains the imagination that a character we are supposed to root for sits idly by while someone in their employ is eaten alive. There is also a general theme of the Alteration having changed the standard of courtesy and delicacy in Regency England, without effecting any material change elsewhere.

Lastly, this book comes with a Discussion Guide at the end, but teachers should not be fooled into thinking this makes the book suitable for classroom discussion. "Have you ever been romantically involved with someone who turned out to be a sea witch?" and "Could one woman, with no previous training in nautical engineering, really teach herself to pilot a submarine?" hardly meet the base standard for critical thinking.

This book also contains allusions to the stereotype that women are really out to "suck men dry" by turning one of the characters into a sea witch who literally sucks the marrow out of her husband's bones. It is not a positive representation of women, of healthy discussion about what implies consent in marriage, or of Austen's original work with a "twist". 0/0 stars if I could; would not recommend.
484 reviews30 followers
August 5, 2011
This time around, the penniless Dashwood ladies are sent to live in shanty on a small island. Not only must they deal with the fact that they are now poor and in need of wealthy husbands, but the nearby ocean is crawling with monstrous sea fare. The tentacle-faced Colonel Brandon has taken a bashful fancy to Marianne, who prefers the monster-killing Willoughby, while Elinor works her way into the heart of Edward Ferras. Can the Dashwood sisters find true love amid the violence of sea monsters and pirate-like enemies?

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.
Profile Image for Brenda.
214 reviews
October 30, 2009
A mash-up of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" with tales of sea monsters, pirates and adventure on the seven seas.

This is what I was hoping "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" was going to be. Author Ben H. Winters gets into the fabric of the book and threads his humourous take on sea monsters into it. He keeps the slightly aloof, very proper tone of the original throughout. The humour comes in the way he twists events on those 19th century manners.

He also manages to preserve the integrity of the individual characters. Different explanations as to the manner in which certain people behave may be given, but everyone is fully recognizable from the source.

I also found it terribly fun and clever that Winters uses assorted outbreaks of monster activity to echo the inner turmoil of various meet-ups between the characters.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dreadlocksmile.
191 reviews57 followers
November 10, 2009
Following on from the instant cult success of the tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Jane Austin’s classic novel with ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ (with adaptations by Seth Grahame-Smith), came Philadelphia-based publishing house, Quirk Classics’ second such literary adaptation, this time with ‘Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters’.

Utilising this newly fangled concept of carving up a classic piece of literature to make way for a more B-Movie-esque style of writing, Quirk editorial director Jason Rekulak struck absolute gold, with an eager audience ready to lap up the next Quirk instalment into this imaginative new genre.

‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ was received incredibly well right from the start of its initial release. However, it became apparent to the publishers that the fanbase for these surreal re-workings wanted a higher percentage of new (monster laden) text. Whereby ‘Zombies’ incorporated a mere fifteen percent of new text, ‘Sea Monsters’ ladled in a massive forty odd percent of fishy frolics into the mix.

For those who don’t already know the classic story by Jane Austin, here it is in a nutshell:

The whole story sets off with the unfortunate death of a Mr. Dashwood, whereby he leaves the entirety of the family estate to his only son and child from his first wife, John Dashwood. John is convinced by his greedy wife Fanny to rid their newly acquired property of its current occupants - his three half-sisters (Elinor, Marianne and Margaret) as well as his recently widowed step-mother. The Dashwood women soon take up residence with Mrs Dashwood’s wealthy and eccentric cousin Sir John Middleton. Whist adjusting themselves to their new lifestyles, the two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, find themselves experiencing both joyful romance and utter heartbreak. Love and lasting happiness is eventually achieved for both sisters after they each find equilibrium between the two contrasting characteristics that are so predominant between the two sisters; Elinor guided by her sense (logic) and Marianne who in turn is guided by her sensibility (emotion).

With this overall storyline already in place, all of the basic elements and characters are kept completely intact with Ben H. Winter’s mashed-up reworking. However, the surreal inclusion of his ‘aquatic imaginings’ of often Lovecraftian proportions to the entirety of the storyline, brings a whole new angle (and dare I say ‘life’) to the tale.

Instead of simply being too long in his years, Colonel Brandon is now not only a gentleman of fine wealth and good manners, but now he has been inflicted with a mass of tentacles that adorn his otherwise human face (as well as other regions). Throughout the novel Winters plays with the original text of the tale in similar such ways, as well as introducing his sea monster attacks during the moments when the character’s emotions are at breaking point. This doubled-up approach of mirroring the emotional peril with a B-movie monster attack at each point in the tale, delivers a thoroughly entertaining but doubly surreal element to the book. On so many occasions, Winters valiantly tackles the character’s altogether important dialogue with a gigantic aquatic attack at exactly the same moment. Hats off to the man, for each and every time he juggles these two dramatic elements with nothing short of an imaginative and truly inspired flare.

The novel as a whole runs smoothly throughout, with the light-hearted alterations never taking themselves too seriously. As the tale builds towards its traumatic finale, the inclusion of the ‘Captain Barbossa’ style pirate ‘Dreadbeard’, is brilliantly comical. With so much emotional turmoil crashing down on the characters, Winters throws in a litany of sea monster mayhem in these final chapters, bringing the aquatic menace to gigantic proportions.

The cunning change of setting from London to the underwater city of Sub-Marine Station Beta, created a whole new opportunity for Winters to weave in his chaotic deep sea devilry. Whilst Elinor and Marianne are suffering their individual emotional heartbreaks all those leagues under the sea, Margaret in turn is dealing with a much darker Lovcraftian-esque affair.

All in all this imaginative reworking has managed to successfully inject some satirical b-movie mayhem to a previously untouched classic. Ok, so the whole concept behind these re-workings will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. But Quirk Classics have really found themselves a niche market to exploit, that as long as it never takes any of what it is doing too seriously (which is highly unlikely), then it has a rich new ground to sow many seeds of sheer imagination.

‘Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters’ is a brilliant way to spend a number of hours chuckling at imagination run riot. The re-working’s not designed to be ripped apart, nor indeed analysed for its overall impact on the emotional ordeals of Elinor and Marianne. Instead, it’s exactly what the title proclaims. Nothing more and nothing less. And I for one bore a huge grin throughout each and every one of the 340 tentacle infested pages.

The book also contains fourteen black and white illustrations interspersed throughout the novel, usually of the more dramatic (and therefore sea monster heavy) moments. A ‘Reader’s Discussion Guide’ is also included at the end of the book that includes ten purely tongue-in-cheek questions that could be used as discussion points on the novel’s content. There is also a quick excerpt from ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’ over the last four pages of the book.

The final icing on the cake is the excellent cover artwork painted by Lars Leetaru that appears on the front of the book. This one painting truly captures the essence of what the Quirk re-workings are all about.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
822 reviews121 followers
September 22, 2022
I read this when it was first published and found it mildly interesting. I preferred Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I tried rereading it now and find it practically unreadable. The original rating will remain though.
Profile Image for Georgiana 1792.
1,914 reviews118 followers
November 17, 2011
Un Cartone Animato

Confesso di aver iniziato a leggere questo mash-up senza molto entusiasmo: venivo dalla lettura di Wuthering Bites, un��alterazione con vampiri del tutto inutile nel già fin troppo violento e passionale Cime Tempestose.
Invece… mi sono divertita! Perché Ben H. Winters ha sicuramente centrato in pieno il giusto spirito del mash-up, seguendo la trama di Jane Austen e riportando un buon 80% del suo romanzo, ma riuscendo nel contempo a snaturarlo completamente.
Durante l’arco di tutta la lettura si formano nella nostra mente le immagini un cartone animato: non si riesce nemmeno a dare un volto umano ai personaggi, e le illustrazioni di Eugene Smith sono sicuramente un ottimo ausilio a questo scopo.
Alcuni personaggi diventano esilaranti, come Lady Middleton, che in Sense and Sensibility era un personaggio quasi trascurabile e spesso dimenticato, e qui diventa una principessa esotica rapita da Sir John, che cerca durante tutto l’arco del romanzo di organizzare la sua fuga; o come John Dashwood, che si presta a programmi di sperimentazione cercando di raggranellare qualche sterlina (l’avaraccio!), facendosi impiantare appendici, squame e posticci d’ogni genere in varie parti del corpo, salvo poi emettere strani versi nel bel mezzo di un discorso.
La stessa Marianne diventa una caricatura della fanciulla delicata che è quando una spina di pesce le resta incagliata in gola: prima cerca di espellerla con smorfie e versi gutturali poco femminili (e anche molto poco educati), poi addirittura utilizza la spina finalmente espulsa come stuzzicadenti! Ora voi nell’immaginare una scena del genere pensereste a Marianne o a Gatto Silvestro?

Il ton, poi, si trasferisce per la season non più a Londra, bensì alla Stazione Sottomarina Beta, una ricostruzione subacquea della capitale, sotto un’enorme cupola di vetro. Qui i divertimenti, più che i balli ed i consueti svaghi che ritroviamo in Jane Austen sono esibizioni pseudo-circensi di mostri marini, che sfuggono però spesso al controllo dei loro domatori, con risultati cruenti, ma che non spostano di un capello la compassione di coloro che restano incolumi dopo l’attacco. Inoltre sono onnipresenti banchetti luculliani a base di pesce, che mi hanno ricordato una sorta di Impero Romano Sottomarino.
Un romanzo assolutamente scenografico, una via di mezzo fra un film apocalittico ed un cartone animato, con diversi riferimenti allo Squalo, a Pirati dei Caraibi, a Ventimila leghe sotto i mari e a L’isola del tesoro di Stevenson… A tutto, tranne che a Jane Austen, insomma! Nonostante l’80% del testo sia tratto da Sense and Sensibility!
Anche le malattie sono scenografiche: non bastava che Marianne fosse in fin di vita, doveva addirittura risultare deturpata (non permanentemente, per fortuna!) dalle punture di zanzara anofele, dalla febbre gialla e c’è chi sostiene che abbia avuto anche il lupus! Insomma, la povera secondogenita delle Dashwood, che già Jane Austen guarda con un velo d’ironia per via del suo carattere impulsivo e passionale, sembra essere addirittura messa alla berlina da Winters!

A parte il carattere goliardico del libro, che ci fa assistere a scene apocalittiche e morti cruente senza battere ciglio (del resto sono sempre i servitori le povere malcapitate vittime), Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters dovrebbe essere ritenuto un libro di fantascienza: ogni tentativo di sottomettere la natura è destinato a fallire. Così è stato per la Stazione Sottomarina Alfa, per la Beta, e lo sarebbe anche per la Gamma, se venisse costruita. Inoltre, sebbene le cause dell’Alterazione, che ha portato ogni pozza d’acqua ad essere pullulata da mostri acquatici, siano sconosciute, sicuramente sarà stata causata dal comportamento degli uomini.

Margaret meriterebbe qualche riga a parte: in questo romanzo è molto più presente che nell’originale (nonostante i tentativi di sua madre di zittirla e, talvolta anche di dimenticarla), ma anche Winters, che desta la nostra curiosità nei suoi confronti per tutto il libro, alla fine ci fa perdere interesse, affidando a Mr Palmer la spiegazione del mistero che la riguarda.

Una lettura davvero divertente, diciamo adatta alla cura delle acque (ihih!) di Bath, sicuramente da tradurre, perché, nello snaturare Ragione e Sentimento Winters è riuscito a creare un romanzo adatto ad un target che è quasi agli antipodi con gli estimatori di Jane Austen, originalissimo e divertente. Ma che poi gli estimatori di questo mash-up possano essere attratti a leggere il testo originale, ho sinceramente i miei dubbi…

Puoi leggere TUTTE le recensioni delle Lizzies QUI:

Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,711 reviews708 followers
March 18, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Jen.
426 reviews2 followers
November 13, 2009
The Dashwood family had been living in Sussex until the untimely death of their father, who was eaten by a hammerhead shark while trying to discover the source of "the Alteration", "when the waters of the world grew cold and hateful to the sons of man, and darkness moved on the face of the deep." The dying man is washed onto shore and manages to write, with his remaining hand, his final wishes: his desire for his son John to care for his half-sisters and their mother financially.

But, of course, as the story goes, John's wife persuades him otherwise, and the Dashwoods find themselves at the mercy of their relation Sir John Middleton, who has offered them a "haphazard shanty, built atop a jagged promontory on the windward side of Pestilent Isle" off the coast of Devonshire. The Dashwoods' new acquaintance Colonel Brandon falls in love with Marianne. But alas, Colonel Brandon suffers from the curse of a sea witch: he bears "a set of long, squishy tentacles protruding grotesquely from his face, writhing this way and that, like
hideous living facial hair of slime green . . . Otherwise, he was very pleasant." Though he is the undisputed hero of the novel, "Brandon is just the kind of man, if man he truly be, whom everybody speaks well of, and nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and everybody is sort of mildly afraid to look at directly." And the story continues on in familiar and not so familiar ways.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters begins as just silly but ends up being truly absurd. Winters is not just adding punchlines; instead, he transforms the book into a tragicomedy, which takes surprising sophistication (think Kierkegaard or Camus), but also the purely ridiculous: death lobsters, gelatinous food-flavored cubes, Sub-Marine Station Beta, and a pet orangutan named "Monsieur Pierre".
Austen's subtle satire and social commentary are not able to withstand intact; what does it matter, after all, whether one is guided by one's passions or societal decorum, when certain annihilation by a Leviathan is just around the, er, pond?

I prefer to read Austen without Winters, but I was impressed with the sophistication: it was like reading H.P. Lovecraft, watching the last episode of the 1960's television show "The Prisoner", and reading "Oscar and Lucinda" all at once. And that's saying something.
Profile Image for Cecelia.
400 reviews209 followers
January 4, 2010
I’ve discovered, much to my surprise, that I like classic novel mash-ups. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? A delicious farce, and one of my favorite books of the year. I won’t defend it as real or wonderful literature. I only found it extremely enjoyable. It was laugh-out-loud fun, and quotable too. Definitely something to throw out into the conversational arena when you need a little humor or a couple of raised eyebrows. So when I heard Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters was coming out, I was delighted. Actually cackled with glee.
So obviously Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters should be a favorite, just based on the title, and the description sounds pretty fantastic, too. And in parts it was hilarious. There were moments when I felt the need to read aloud. But unfortunately the combined effects of typographical, continuity and factual errors kept me from really enjoying the book. I felt that I couldn’t focus on the content for the sake of the grammar. And that’s a shame.
The book has an added mystery, which I quite enjoyed, as it gave the reader something to puzzle over while ‘admiring’ the addition of sea monsters to a beloved text. So it’s not just S&S PLUS sea monsters, it’s an extra parallel storyline. The thing was, during the last third of the book especially, this additional content was not integrated well into the whole, and mistakes such as spelling troops ‘troups’ were littered all over the place. I can forgive a lapse or two – as my brother Joey says, “I find a couple of typos a book.” It’s when you find that there are enough to count, to keep track of…that’s when the reading gets tough.
I got the feeling that this book was pushed through the editing process to make a deadline, and not given the same care and attention as the previous title, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Either that, or it was meant to look sloppy. In any case, I have a hard time recommending it because I wasn’t able to enjoy it fully. Here’s hoping for better luck with Quirk Classics in the future.
Profile Image for Wendy White.
Author 8 books22 followers
February 27, 2010
I have not read the previous book in this series - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - but when it first came out I was not particularly interested. I've read Austen but her novels aren't really my kind of book. And while adding zombies is an amusing gimmick, I didn't think it would make the new take worth reading.

I was given this book for my birthday, and decided to give it a go despite my trepidations about the series, which turned out to be pretty much accurate.

The concept is amusing, but to me personally it would have worked better as a skit or short film rather than a book. Winters has made some entertaining additions to the plot (although I barely remember what the original was like) and he achieves what he set out to do. It's just what he set out to do isn't really enough to grab me. Your mileage may vary.

My favourite part at of the book is actually the "essay questions" at the end - those were entertaining. Also the crack about the Colonel's "appendages" towards the end of the book. Was disappointed that there weren't more naughty tentacles jokes. Would have given it 3 stars if there had been. Because I'm a bad person.

If you want a comedy relating to the works of Jane Austen, I'd recommend you read the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde - I've read the first two and they were a lot of fun.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews17 followers
March 6, 2014
trailer(fun!) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jZVE5...

Oooooh - look at the lovely illustrations within - shiny!

Opening sentence: The family of Dashwood had been settled in Sussex since the Alteration, when the waters of the world grew cold and hateful to the sons of man, and darkness moved on the face of the deep.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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