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Tastier than a broiled rattle snake (cut up into slices like a cake)
on 5 July 2013
It has long been my fervent belief that there can't be many great works of literature which would not be significantly enhanced by the addition of giant octupi, marauding armies of swordfish forming themselves into attack forces and man-eating molluscs and this book has just completely confirmed my opinion in this.
I loved this book - what's not to love? The classic tale of the Dashwood sisters and their adventures and misadventures through polite society and in love melded perfectly together with a fishy accompaniment. Winters never misses a beat in his oceanic additions and I was laughing pretty much all the way through the book. There are some really clever twists here - transforming the fashionable heart of society into Sub-Station Beta was inspired, and the addition of the Fanged Sea Beast of Devon into the scene where Lucy Steele makes her devastating relevation to Elinor concerning Edward Ferrars adds a further dimension to the drama and action.
I couldn't quite get why there were so many negative reviews of this book, but I do suspect that it is appealing to a very particular type of reader. You have to love Jane Austen to appreciate it(as well as sea monsters). Indeed, the author gives it away in his dedication at the beginning of the book. This book is aimed at people who love both "great literature and great silliness". If you don't like both, I suspect this isn't going to tick many boxes for you.
I'm not a big fan of authors including "reading notes" or "guidance for reading group discussion" at the end of their works - readers don't need to be told what to think, but I'm prepared to make an exception in this case. Winters' suggested discussions throw up some fascinating insights and questions to consider, such as "Have you ever been attacked by giant lobsters, either figuratively or literally" and "Which would be worse: being eaten by a shark or consumed by the acidic stomach juice of a sand-shambling man-o'-war?" The latter led to a very heated argument between my 7 year old son and myself, with he arguing for the shark and myself leaning towards the sand-shambling man-o'-war. We had to declare a truce in the end and go onto the subject of sea witches. We failed to think of any books featuring orangutan valets in Western literature.
Cannot recommend this book highly enough.