Book Review: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

I love the classics.

Hemmingway, Twain, Melville, Mitchell, Bronte, and Du Maurier all knew what they were doing.

Many teachers say that you have to read and learn from the past in order to be able to write for the future.

An example of an author who should be studied for her ability to capture the intricacies of a time period where propriety, wealth, and manners rule is none other than Jane Austen

Her work has been able to resonate with readers today. I don’t know how many friends, scholars, or “100 books to read before you die” lists have named a Jane Austen novel as one of their favorites.

But despite the beauty that can be found within the classics, they are not being read like they used to and are deemed to be irrelevant and uninteresting to the general public.

So author Ben H. Winters and the crew of Quirk Books are back with yet another sci-fi adaption of one Austen’s masterpieces.  First we were gifted with the walking dead in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and now Sense and Sensibility and reworked it into Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. It’s still the same story of money, inheritance, and love, but with sea monsters. Yes, sea monsters. 

Winters has mixed the original text of Austen’s first novel and added an aquatic element that surprisingly appealed to my usually anti-sci fi palate. The Dashwood sisters have been cheated from their inheritance and their story follows them as they navigate the murky waters of true love and their personal desires that involve human and crustaceous characters.

With a humorous voice and deadpan delivery, Winters has a talent for blending the supernatural with the refined world of regency England. This is an easy page-turner that avoids some of the classic’s pitfalls  (Austen sometimes gets bogged down with details). To reluctant classic readers, I recommend this book.

To those who can list every Austen book in order of publication date, maybe you should just stick to the original. The added drama of sea monsters and the insertion of Winters’ endless reworkings might make you seasick. It’s funny, yes. But the punchline can leave you waterlogged if you’re searching for the original charm and sass demonstrated in the original.

– By Janelle Stokes

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