Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Sail away with Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

From the folks who brought you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,another hybrid of Jane Austen's classic novels of love and society and horror genre menaces is about to hit our literary shores. This time,the target is Sense and Sensibility,with the interesting add-on of Sea Monsters,thanks to "co-author" Ben H. Winters.

The story set-up is familiar;the Dashwood sisters must find a new home after their father meets his untimely end at the gruesome jaws of a shark and all of the family estate by the seaside is inherited by half brother John,who with the help of his cold as a cod wife Fanny,reneges on his promises to assist them(it helps that the plea by the senior Mr. Dashwood was written in sand and washed away by the tides).

The ladies are offered a home on one of the islands owned by Sir John,a somewhat retired adventurer,and there Miss Marianne is courted by two suitors. One she automatically rejects is Colonel Brandon,who has a tentacle ridden face due to a sea witch's curse,and the other, Willoughby, she unreservedly gives her heart to after he rescues her from the clutches of an octopus.

Elinor,on the other hand,slowly realizes that she and Edward Ferrars will more than likely never get a chance to express their love,especially when Lucy Steele lets her in on the secret engagement between her and Edward(ill timely told while rowing a boat just as the Devonshire Fang Beast rises up from the waters to make his presence known).

Many of the perils of this book are physical as well as emotional,due to the ongoing battle between mankind and just about every denizen of the deep that you can imagine:

This background of nautical warfare is due to an event called The Alteration,which has a number of theories about it's origins held by several characters throughout the story,but even that doesn't prevent the Dashwood sisters from experiencing heartbreak or other worries.

Their loads to bear in life are made more exotic by having to flee giant lobster attacks,hold off a band of vicious pirates and fearing for young Margaret's state of mind as she becomes obsessed with some strange goings-on at their new island home.

Those who are ardent admirers of Miss Austen's novels should be able to rest easy;while the outrageous acts of violence committed by sea dwelling creatures of all sorts are merrily splattering the pages,the heart of the tale is still intact. Marianne's legendary misery is complete in all it's glory,only with a maritime setting to enhance it further along:

Ben Winters mixes in plenty of prior literary ocean based references such as Jules Verne,along with some offbeat mystical ones like H.P. Lovecraft with parody laced panache. While sea monsters may not have the instant pop cultural cache of zombies ,this second go-round at Jane Austen has the potential to create a revival.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is an amusing take on the Austen romantic realm that brings much needed laughter to readers to put them at ease as they go forth thru the troubled waters of our times.

Whether you're a land lubber or a salty sea dog,S&S&SM has the right bait and hook to reel you into the wild waves of this Regency romp. The best you can do is hang on tight and enjoy the ride-you might even make a few new friends along the way:

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