SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS
By Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
If you are a regular fan of Ms. Hen, you would know that she is one of Jane’s Austen’s greatest admirers. She has read all her novels. She loves the authenticity of Austen's characters, even though her novels were written around two hundred years ago.
Ms. Hen had read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES a few years back, and she thought it was a lot of fun. She didn’t take it seriously; she couldn’t imagine how Miss Austen would react to it if she were around today. Some people might think this kind of novel is blasphemy, but we have to consider all the rewrites that have been done of Shakespeare: there are hundreds! So why shouldn’t someone rework Austen wildly? Ms. Hen doesn’t think there should be anything wrong with doing this, but she believes these novels should only be read in small doses.
She dived into SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS. It’s a similar tale to the original, but exactly how a reader would imagine it to be, with sea monsters entwined. Ms. Hen was especially intrigued by Colonel Brandon’s character, who sports an octo-beard, a beard made of live tentacles that squirm and reveal his emotions. His picture is on the cover of the novel, with Marianne, whom he pursues.
It’s the same story as Austen: three sisters are sent with their mother to live in a smaller cottage because their funds have been depleted. They socialize in the village and the girls look for suitors. But this novel has little bits of the ocean squeezed into the story, and there are parts that are hilarious.
Miss Steele talks to Elinor about the available men in the vicinity, ”I’m sure there’s a vast many smart beaux in Plymouth; it is a coastal city, drawing its share of adventurous young men interested in murdering sea swine.” All the men do such things in this novel.
Elinor and Marianne go to the undersea Dome, Sub-Marine Station Beta, and enjoy the hospitality of Mrs. Jennings. Marianne, in her despondency, looks out the window of the dome, “She ignored the squid that sat slavering outside the glass, watching her with its giant popeyes, and dragging its tentacle across the Dome-glass.” The Dome is an undersea wonder, and it made Ms. Hen wonder if the author got the idea from the novel 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.
Ms. Hen was confused by the end of the novel. It seems as if the action had reached a climax, but then there were more and more climaxes. It seems to Ms. Hen as if the author had to pack a quota of sea creatures in at the end of the novel, that she was overwhelmed, and it appeared as if the novel’s pacing lost itself near the end.
It’s not to say that Ms. Hen didn’t like this novel. It’s just that she thinks it is extremely silly, a little sillier even than PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.
Ms. Hen read this because she wanted to read a scary novel for Halloween. She enjoyed it, though she has read better. She doesn’t think that Miss Austen would be rolling in her grave. She doesn’t know if our friend Jane had a sense of humor, but she hopes so, because Ms. Hen believes that a sense of humor is the most important thing in life, and if you have one, it can help you through anything. She thinks there’s a possibility that Jane would have enjoyed Colonel Brandon’s octo-beard.